JMZ Walls

This is the twelfth in a series of occasional posts featuring images of children that have surfaced on NYC public spaces:

Brooklyn-based Jeff Henriquez at the Bushwick Collective

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Joe Iurato and Logan Hicks collaboration at the Bushwick Collective

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BK Foxx with JMZ Walls in Bushwick

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Brazilian artist Sipros in Bushwick with the Bushwick Collective

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The nomadic Joel Artista in collaboration with youth in Bellerose, Queens

German artist Case Maclaim, — new for Monument Art in East Harlem

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Close-up

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Photo credits: 1, 2 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 5 Tara Murray; 4 & 6 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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Brazilian artist Marcelo Ment recently brought his infectious, spirited aesthetic back to NYC, where he painted in Bushwick for JMZ Walls, on the Lower East Side for the New Allen and at First Street Green Park for International Hip Hop Day. While he was here, I had the opportunity to interview him.

When and where did you first get up?

It was in 1992 in Rio. I was 15 at the time.

What inspired you back then?

I always loved graffiti. My friends used to bring back graffiti magazines from the States, and I loved what I saw. I wanted to do it too. And from the time I was a young child, my older sister had always encouraged me to draw.

How did it feel at the time – the first time you got up?

It was great! I was so excited, I had butterflies in my stomach. It was love at first touch.

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How did your family feel about what you were doing back then?

My mom didn’t understand it.  She said, “You have talent. So why are you doing this?” But now my entire family is proud of me.  They respect that I can make a living from what I love doing.

Yes, that’s the best! What is the principal source of your income?

Commissions, graphic design and canvasses.

What was the riskiest thing you’ve done?

Painting in high places that were not safe.

So then why did you?

I told myself that I have to.

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What about these days? Do you prefer to work in legal spots or in unsanctioned ones?

These days I tend to do more legal work. I’m 40. I’m not a kid anymore, and I have serious responsibilities. But I respect illegal art and I miss the adrenalin rush.

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

I don’t feel it in Rio. There’s a sense of mutual respect.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your style?

My initial and principal influence was classic NYC graffiti. I love letters.

Do you have a formal art education?

No! I’m self-taught.

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What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Almost 100%.

Have you any other interests? Passions?

Music is very important to me. I especially love reggae – all kinds of it.

Have you shown your work in galleries?

Yes, I’ve exhibited in Rio and in Amsterdam.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I love collaborating with friends.

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Are there any artists you would particularly like to collaborate with? Artists who have inspired you?

Among them are: Marko 93 from Paris, Germany’s Can2 and the Brazilian artist, Tarm.

What is your ideal working environment?

Anywhere I have access to paint!

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

It varies. I prefer to freestyle.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

I don’t think I am.  We are all so far from our best.

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How has your work evolved through the years?

It’s evolved from painting letters to painting women. Painting women has been particularly challenging. And as I continue to grow as an artist, I tend to fuse my various styles and skills.

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

It’s good and bad. Some are too eager to share what’s not worth sharing.

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

To share knowledge and awareness.

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

When was JMZ Walls first launched?

In the fall of 2014.

What spurred you to initiate it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you decide which artists to include?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images

1. BK Foxx

2. Brazilian artists Thiago Valdi & l7m

3. Rio de Janeiro-based  Marcelo Ment

4. Kesta 

5. Montreal-based Philippe Mastrocola aka Spraycam

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Tara Murray; 3-5 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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

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Moscow-based artist Yulia Vanifatieva aka Hula recently made her way to NYC and left her mark in Bushwick, Brooklyn. After she’d finished painting several outdoor murals in collaboration with JMZ Walls, I had the opportunity to meet up with her and find about a bit about the young Russian artist and her Pink Power art project.

When did you first get up in a public space?

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

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

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

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

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

Have you collaborated with other street artists?

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

Do you work from a sketch when you paint?

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

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Do you have a formal art education?

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

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

Designing window displays for high-end department stores.

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

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

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Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

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

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

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

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

Among my favorites are Anthony Lister and Herakut.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s ahead?

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

That sounds great! Good luck with it all!

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

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

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This is the eleventh in a series of occasional posts featuring images of children that have surfaced on NYC public spaces

Vince Ballentine for Educated Little Monsters in Bushwick

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Faile in Greenpoint

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BK Foxx with JMZ Walls in Bushwick

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Theresa Kim with Spread Art NYC in Bushwick

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Sipros for the NYC Arts Cypher in Staten Island

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Photo credits: 1, 2, 4 & 5 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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This is the tenth in a series of occasional posts featuring images of children that have surfaced on NYC public spaces.

BK Foxx with JMZ Walls in Bushwick, Brooklyn

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Joe Iurato and Logan Hicks at the Bushwick Collective

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Ernest Zacharevic — based on photo by Martha Cooper — in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

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Swoon in Red Hook, Brooklyn

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Long-running Cekis in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

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Rubin 415 and Joe Iurato with the Welling Court Mural Project in Astoria, Queens

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Photos 1 Courtesy of John Woodward; 2-4 Tara Murray; 5 Dani Reyes Mozeson and 6 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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This is the eighth in an occasional series featuring images of males who surface on NYC public spaces:

JR in Soho

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Sipros in Midtown Manhattan with the Bushwick Collective

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Os Gemeos on the Lower East Side

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Werc and Gera Luz in LIC with the Welling Court Mural Project

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Rob Plater in Bushwick with JMZ Walls

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Crash and Solus with the Lisa Project in Noho

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The first image features Swoon in Red Hook

Photo credits: 1, 5-7 Tara Murray; 2-4 Lois Stavsky

Note: This blog will be on vacation through next Wednesday, January 13. You can follow us on Facebook and on Instagram.

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This is the eighth in a series of occasional posts featuring images of children that have surfaced on NYC public spaces:

Nick Walker in the South Bronx

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Izolag in Hunts Point

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Chain for JMZ Walls in Bushwick

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Lorenzo Masnah on the Lower East Side

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Miss 163 in Hunts Point

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Australian artist Adnate at the Bushwick Collective, close-up

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Icy and Sot on the Lower East Side, close-up

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Shiro in Bushwick

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Note: Entre La Guardia y El Dorado, featuring works by Lorenzo Masnah (featured above) and Alex Seel, will open this evening at 6pm at XY Atelier Gallery, 81 Hester Street on the corner of Orchard. It will remain on view until August 30.

Photo credits: 1 Tara Murray; 2, 3, 5, 6 & 8 Lois Stavsky; 4 courtesy of the artist 7 Dani Reyes Mozeson

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For over three decades Bronx native Just One has been making his mark on NYC public and private spaces. We recently had the opportunity to speak to the prolific artist.

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When did you first get up? And where?

It was back in 1984 — over 30 years ago — in the West Farms section of the Bronx. I was 14 at the time.

What inspired you to do so?

My older brother and his friends were all doing it. It was the natural thing to do.

Any early memories that stand out?

I was at a handball court in Crotona Park when the spray can I was holding in my hand almost burst into flames.

How did that happen?

It came into contact with a cigarette lighter, and could have easily blown up.

We’re glad it didn’t! We’ve noticed your work in quite a few projects these days – from JMZ Walls in Bushwick, Brooklyn to Operation Skittles at August Martin High School in Jamaica, Queens. Do you prefer legal or illegal surfaces?

I love painting anywhere – but to experience the full essence of graffiti, there is nothing like painting on a surface I discover on my own. Finding a space, being there alone and creating something out of nothing is the ultimate experience.

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Have you ever been arrested for graffiti?

No!

How’s that?

I have good instincts.

What was the riskiest graffiti-related thing you’ve ever done? And why did you do it?

Hitting an elevated abandoned train line, where I had to hop over each wall to do another letter. Why did I do it? I’d been eyeballing that spot for quite awhile and nobody else took it, so I’d figure I’d take my chance. And, yes, it was worth it!

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

My children love it!

What percentage of your day is devoted to your art these days?

About 70%.

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What keeps you painting after all these years?

Passion and the adrenalin rush!  It also relieves my stress.

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

I, myself, prefer the movement and flow of graffiti. But art is art. And street art can be beautiful.

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

I don’t have a problem with that. It’s a good thing! I’ve shown at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery in Long Island City and in bars and other alternative spaces around town.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

Both.

Is there anyone in particular you would like to collaborate with?

I’d like to paint with Mitch 77, Jamie Hef and Lee Quinones.

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Do you rep any crews?

TMC, TFO, KD, COA and I’m the prez of WF, World Famous Crew.

How you feel about the role of the Internet in this scene?

It can be too much. When it gets too much into your business, it’s bad.

Do you have a formal arts education?

I’m self-taught, but my teachers always encouraged me to draw.

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

I freestyle.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Most of the time!

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How has your work evolved in the past few years?

It’s sharper and neater. And I work much faster.

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

To inspire others to express themselves.

How do you feel about the photographers in this scene?

The more exposure our works get, the better for us.

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

It will continue to evolve.

And what about you? What’s ahead for you?

I plan to keep painting.  And I want to get back into the canvas scene and hopefully — sometime soon — do a solo show.

Interview by Lois Stavsky with City-As-School intern Diana Davidovaphotos: 1, 3-5 courtesy of Just; 2 & 6 (with Awez) Lois Stavsky

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While in NYC for the Fridge Art Fair, Miami-based artists Diana Contreras, Delvs and Jenny Perez graced our walls with their vibrant, infectious aesthetic.

Diana Contreras aka Didi and Delvs at work in the East Village at the 12C Outdoor Gallery, 12th Street and Avenue C 

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Diana Contreras aka Didi at work at 12C Outdoor Gallery

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Delvs at work at 12C Outdoor Gallery

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Delvs, Diana Contreras and Jenny Perez at work at JMZ Walls in Bushwick

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Jenny Perez at work at JMZ Walls in Bushwick

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Final piece for JMZ Walls

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Photos: 1 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 2-5 Tara Murray 

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