mural art

Celebrating the diversity of street art, along with its power to transform neighborhoods, the Wide Open Walls mural festival is currently underway in Sacramento, California. Pictured above is Madrid-based Okuda with his completed work. What follows are several more images captured from the festival-in-progress by street art and travel photographer Karin du Maire:

Okuda, closer up

Paris-based Ludo

NYC-based How & Nosm at work

Nevada City-based Miles Toland with his completed mural

And on exhibit at Beatnik Studios in coordination with Wide Open Walls:

Sacramento-based Shaun Burner

And local artist Bryan Valenzuela

Organized by Branded Arts and festival founder David Sobon, Wide Open Walls continues through the 20th, bringing over 40 artists – local, national and international – to the downtown Sacramento area and beyond.

Photos by 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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Paris-based artist Alexandre Monteiro aka Hopare visited NYC last month for the first New York edition of the Urban Art Fair. In addition to painting live at Spring Studios in Tribeca, he shared his expressive, stylish aesthetic with us New Yorkers at JMZ Walls in Bushwick, Brooklyn. And while he was here, street art and travel photographer Karin du Maire had the opportunity to capture him at work and speak to him:

When did you first start painting on the streets? And what got you into graffiti and street art?

I started about 15 years ago. I was 12 years old, and I got into it through skateboarding. I liked to go skateboarding in warehouses in my neighborhood, and one day, I met some graffiti artists there. I tried doing graffiti, and I’ve been painting ever since.

Can you tell us something about your style? How did you develop it? What inspired it?

In the beginning, I did mainly letters. My work back then was based on letters – with a fill, a sketch and an outline. When I first began doing portraits, I wanted to keep the authenticity of lettering. So first I did a sketch, then a fill of colors and then an outline with black lines. I was also very inspired by Portuguese graphics of traditional insignias. I added them around most of my portraits.

What about the background pattern that you use in all of your murals? Where does that come from?

It is my parents’ insignia from their church in Portugal. I paint it either on my portraits or in the background. It is a tribute to my parents wherever I travel. In fact, I have it also as a tattoo on my arm.

What do you think of the graffiti and street art here in NYC?

This is my second time in NYC.  I identify this city with graffiti. I always wanted to paint graffiti here, because NYC is the basis for European graffiti. I dreamt of painting at 5Pointz, but I can’t — as it doesn’t exist any more.

What’s ahead? Have you any travel plans?

I just want to continue painting, continue traveling. Paint to be able to travel and then travel to paint. If painting allows me to travel, then I am living my dream. I have some projects lined up in Asia, but I don’t know yet where I am going after that. I will go wherever my painting takes me.

Photos and interview by Karin du Maire; photos 1-4 in NYC; photo 5 in Hong Kong, 2015. 

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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Run by the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, the New York City Mural Arts Project has brought two murals to the Bronx and one to Manhattan this past year.

“Art has the ability to profoundly change the way we think, feel, and even spark meaningful conversation to begin to break down the strongholds of isolation and stigma,” said First Lady Charlene McCray.”The Mural Arts Project is an important investment…in improving our city’s mental health infrastructure.”

Earlier this year, lead artist Andrew Frank Baer began collaborating with Fountain House Gallery and members of the Hell’s Kitchen community in designing and painting a huge two-segment mural. Many of the Mural Arts Project’s participants struggle with mental illness and/or substance abuse problems.The impressive artwork they created has since found a home on West 34th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. After visiting the site, I spoke to Andrew Frank Baer.

I love the the collaborative nature of this project.  How would you describe the principal mission of the New York City Mural Arts Project?

Its principal aim is to integrate people with mental health issues into the community and to destigmatize mental illness.

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Could you tell us something about the process? Its beginnings?

Yes! The Fountain House Gallery hosted workshops where its members actively designed and sketched the artworks. And as the local community is involved in all stages of the process, there is constant interaction among us all.

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What is it about the project that engages you?

I’ve worked with similar mural-making projects for a few years now. I love drawing, and I love listening. And I especially love working with others and serving people with mental health issues.

What were some of the challenges that this project has faced?

Deciding on a design that would work — one that people would respond to. And, then, getting to know everyone on a sincere level.

The site of the two mural segments is ideal. The two wide, highly visible spaces couldn’t be more perfect! And I think we can all relate to its message: Some days I have to push myself to go outside and walk to the park. Say hello! We can embrace ourselves and open doors together. How has the community responded to it all? 

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We even had construction workers enthusiastically coming up to us while we were working on site!

Congratulations! I’m looking forward to future collaborations!

Photos by 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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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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I first came upon WC Bevan‘s mesmerizing aesthetic at an exhibit — curated by Jason Mamarella aka d.w. krsna — that I attended back in 2013 at 17 Frost. I was delighted to rediscover it on the streets of Detroit during my recent trip, where I, also, had a chance to visit the artist’s studio and speak to him.

When and where did you first get up in a public space?

I was about 15 or 16 and living in Ohio. I had gotten my driver’s license, and in between delivering pizzas, I’d find walls under train bridges.

What ignited your interest back then in graffiti?

A punk named Gabe Razor gave me his half-filled black book. He wrote, but never disclosed who he was.

Had you any favorite surfaces to hit up back then?

Besides the walls under the train bridges, I liked abandoned spaces – of any kind — and the quarries.

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These days — when you are out on the streets — would you rather work legally or illegally?

Both. 

Were you ever arrested?

Once in Memphis. I just had to repaint the wall and pose for a photo.

What’s the riskiest thing you’ve ever done while painting in the streets?

In Memphis, I painted a big, googly eyeball 26 stories above the ground while hanging off a bar.

Why did you?

It was fun! Why not? 

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Would you rather paint alone or collaborate with others?

I like collaborating with rich people who commission me to paint their walls!

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

I don’t feel it much here in Detroit. We’ve all been through so much together.

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

About 90%.

How does your family feel about what you are doing 

They love it. They’re cool! My father is a folk musician.

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What are some of your other interests?

I record music as a hobby, and I bike.

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

It depends on the nature and mission of the company or corporation. It’s okay as long as the artist is aware of the company’s agenda and can work with it.

What is the main source of your income?

Working on commissioned murals and selling my work privately. 

Have you shown your work in galleries?

Yes. I’ve been in lots of shows – both group exhibits and solo shows. When I was based in NYC, I showed at 17 Frost.

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

A loose sketch.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

Yes. And, if not, I’ll fix it. So far, I’ve only painted over one piece.

Do you have a formal art education?

I attended the Memphis College of Art for almost two years.

Was it worth it?

It wasn’t the way I wanted to do it, but I did get a lot of art supplies out of it!

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Are there any particular cultures or movements that have influenced your aesthetic?

I’ve been influenced by South American art, the Renaissance and architectural designs.

How has your work evolved through the years?

With the space and time I’ve had since moving to Detroit, it has evolved quite a bit.  It’s tighter and bigger.

What inspires you these days?

Pure vision and free association.

Do any particular artists inspire you?

JJ Cromer, Martin Ramirez, Louise Nevelson, Kenny Sharf, R Crumb, Motohiro Hayakawa, Minnie Evans

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

If a graffiti artist paints something and it doesn’t appear on Instagram, did it really happen?  My advice to graffiti artists is: Don’t show your face or location. But the Internet does make it easier for us to sell T-shirts!

What’s ahead?

Murals in the Market, a trip to Cuba and more painting!

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

To provide meaning, encourage reflection, and offer people the possibility of seeing things differently.

Photo credits: 1, 5 & 6 courtesy of the artist; 2-4 & 7 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray

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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Four new murals — all fashioned by South American artists — have found a home on Harman Street off Knickerbocker Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Curated by Spread Art NYC, each is distinctly intriguing. The wall segment pictured above features Colombian artists Guache and Praxis and Ecuadorian artist Irving Ramó. Several more photos captured at this space follow:

Guache at work

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Praxis gets some assistance

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A close-up from Irving Ramó‘s completed mural

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And the most recent addition to the wall — painted by  by Brazilian artist Raul Zito

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Photo credits: 1-3  Karin du Maire; 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky

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

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The third edition of Festival Inspire — held earlier this month in Moncton, New Brunswick — has brought 13 wondrous new murals to the Canadian city’s urban landscape. Greater Moncton is now home to 31 strikingly beautiful murals by international and local artists. The artwork pictured above was painted by Mexican artist Senkoe. What follows are several recent murals:

UK-based Wasp Elder

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Portuguese artist Bordalo II

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Toronto-based Jerry Rugg aka Birdo

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Athens-based WD

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French artist Etien

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Mexican artist Eva Bracamontes

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All photos courtesy Festival Inspire: 1 -6 Louis Philippe Chiasson; 7 Edward deo Dingle

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 masterful Puerto Rican artist Alexis Diaz returned to NYC earlier this month, where he completed his mural for Coney Art Walls and fashioned a new one in Nolita. Featured above is his wondrous new work  — painted with the assistance of Esagente — at rag & bone on Elizabeth Street. What follows are several more images of the work in progress and the completed mural:

In the beginning

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Both artists continue painting on one of the hottest days of the year–

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Alexis Diaz takes a brief break; Esagente paints 

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Alexis Diaz photographs the final piece

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Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 3 Tara Murray; 4 & 5 Karin du Maire

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Fashioned by the hugely talented Jerry Rugg aka Bird0, a delightful range of brightly-hued, surrealistic geometric creatures have made their way onto Toronto’s visual landscape.  We were delighted to meet the artist while visiting Toronto and have the chance to interview him.

When and where did you first get up?

It was in 2002 in Toronto with a wretched, shitty, embarrassing tag.

What inspired you at the time?

The 90’s freight graffiti that I saw on the Canadian Prairies.

Do any early graffiti-related memories stand out?

Discovering that someone in my local town — Rove CBS — was a great graffiti artist and watching him paint.

Have you painted with any crews?

Six years of mayhem with the DMC crew!

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These days, would you rather work legally or illegally?

 I’d rather not be in handcuffs!

What is the riskiest thing you ever did?

Quit my day job.

What are your preferred surfaces?

I like painting outdoors – the bigger the surface the better.

Have you any thoughts regarding street artists’ engagement with the corporate world?

We have to pay our bills and we have to sleep at night. I guess it’s up to the individual to strike a balance.

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What about exhibits? Have you shown your work in formal settings?

Yes. I’ve participated in quite a few group shows.

Would you rather paint alone or collaborate with others?

I’m a lone wolf. But I like the concept of collaborating and I like interacting with others. It’s part of our evolution as artists.

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

There is friction; they’re different mentalities painting the same surfaces. I’ve always believed that you gotta give respect to get respect.

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

All if it!

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

I always have a sketch. I’m very strategic.

Have you a formal art education?

The graffiti culture has been my teacher.

Are there any particular cultures – besides the graffiti culture – that have influenced your aesthetic?

Not any specific cultures  — but movements, like Surrealism and artists like Escher and Dali.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

People who know me best would likely say I’m rarely satisfied with anything.

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How has your work evolved through the years?

My style is similar, but my technique has evolved, particularly the way I work with shapes.

How do you feel about the photographers and bloggers in this scene?

I love it!  We artists are in the business of exposure.

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

Artists are independent thinkers.  Our role is to mix things up.  Artists should challenge, disrupt, or beautify.

 What’s ahead?

Traveling, painting, drinking tea. Repeat.

Sounds good! We hope you make it to NYC soon!

Photo credits: 1, 3-5 courtesy the artist; 2 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray

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 range of artworks and writings — by members of the Harlem Art Collective aka HART and the East Harlem community — on the theme No Rezoning, No Displacement, No Gentrification have made their way onto the Guerrilla Gallery on East 116th Street. The image pictured above — painted by Kristy McCarthy aka DGale and Zerk Oer — features a color-coded map with median prices of real estate sales and incomes of East Harlem residents, illustrating how increasingly difficult it is for working-class folks to afford to live in their own community. Several more images follow:

The following two images — featuring actual people who live in the neighborhood, including the homeless man who sleeps in front of the Guerrilla Gallery every night and the woman who sells tamales on the corner — were painted collaboratively by Rosi Mendoza, Maire Mendoza, Marisa Steffers, Harold Baines, Samuelson Mathew, O’Sheena Smith, Michael Mitchell, Amar Bennett, Shani Evans, Anni Merejo, Ralph Serrano, and Nathan Zeiden. The “Derecho A Techo” and “El Barrio No Se Vende” (further down below) signs were fashioned by Mi Casa No Es Su Casa: Illumination Against Gentrification.

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The Trojan Horse — centerpiece of project

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 Earlier on — Ralph Serrano at work

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Kristy McCarthy aka DGale prepares wall for public comments —

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The community contributes: a poem by the Poets of Course from Urban Innovations, assorted artwork, an article about the cost of keeping one person in prison for one year ($60,000 +), prints of paintings depicting the arrivals of Christopher Colombus and Hernán Cortéz and other depictions of colonizers “discovering” new lands.

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 Adam Bomb with an announcement

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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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