mural art

Two brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed murals – one by Sonny Sundancer and the other by ASVP – surfaced last month on the exterior walls of IS 318 in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sonny’s mural– at the corner of Lorimer Street and Throop Avenue – depicts a Yawanawa girl from Acre, Brazil, along with a jaguar, representative of a species that is sacred to the indigenous peoples and at risk of extinction. ASVP‘s black and white tower mural — painted on the opposite wall — features an elephant, bear, tiger and more, all interdependent and threatened or endangered in some capacity.

While visiting the school last week for the murals’ dedication and ribbon cutting, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Greenpoint Innovations founder Stephen Donofrio, who had organized the The Point NYC project.

These hugely impressive murals are one component of The Point NYC initiative. Just what is The Point NY?

It is a collaborative venture — among Comics Uniting Nations, Greenpoint Innovations, Hypokrit Theatre Company, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and UNICEF — that brings together artists, producers, educators and local environmentalists for a series of artistic productions and events. Among these are: a comic book, public murals, a theatrical experience, open dialogue and an educational toolkit.

What is its ultimate mission?

Its mission is to respond to the human impact of climate change and to exercise the power we all have, particularly the youth, to take action for a better future.

And what inspired the direction that this project has taken?

It was inspired by a comic book story —Tre, by Sathviga ‘Sona’ Sridhar — about a climate change superhero. Sona had become passionate about climate change when her town in Chennai, India was flooded and when she heard about the Climate Comic Contest by UNICEF and Comics Uniting Nations, she decided to submit her art.

How did you connect with Sonny Sundancer and ASVP? Their murals are perfect for this project, as they are exquisite and brilliantly reflect environmental issues.

Karin du Maire introduced me to Sonny, and I met ASVP at the Moniker Art Fair in Greenpoint this past spring. Both Sonny and ASVP were ideal to work with, as they are not only wonderful artists, but caring people.

Were you presented with any particular challenges in seeing the project through?

Coordinating with the Department of Education was somewhat of a task. And then discovering that a segment of the wall that Sonny had completed had been coated to protect it from any lasting paint was another challenge. But – with considerable effort — we overcame them both!

How have the members of the local community responded to these two murals?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. They love them.

And thank you for initiating this project!

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Lois Stavsky; 3 Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; 

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The latest, soon-to-be-released edition of the street art coloring book series by Aimful Books, created by Diego Orlandini, features images of murals from the streets of Brooklyn, NYC’s Mecca of urban art.  Intent on contributing to educating children across the globe, Aimful Books matches every coloring book purchased with a free textbook to a school-age child. Its ultimate goal is to provide a million free textbooks to children by selling one million street art coloring books.

Deftly curated, The Brooklyn Coloring Book features the talents of over 40 artists who have shared their visions with us on the streets of Brooklyn. Among them are: Shiro, Chris RWK, Icy and Sot, Beau Stanton, Lady PinkAlice Mizrachi, Esteban del Valle and Denton Burrows.

And you can win a free copy of the $25.00 Brooklyn Coloring Book before it’s released to the public!

  • 76 premium pages
  • Perforated pages easy to detach to frame or gift your masterpieces
  • Spiral-bound for easy folding
  • 7.87 in x 7.87 in
  • Artworks of 48 world-class street artists
  • Full-color directory
  • Buy One Give One Initiative

For a chance to win a free copy, go to www.aimfulbooks.com/giveaway to participate in 10 seconds or less.

Images

  1. Shiro
  2. School children in Peru
  3. Chris RWK at work
  4. Shiro (L.) and Icy and Sot (R.)
  5. Coloring book cover

All images courtesy of the street art-loving, socially conscious Aimful Books

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While visiting PS9’s STEAM Mural Project in Prospect Heights last month, I came upon a delightfully playful mural gracing the outside of the school building. STEAM Mural Project curator Jeff Beler told me a bit about the intriguing visionary artist behind it — Cuban native Myztico Campo. I was delighted to, soon afterwards, have the opportunity to interview the Brooklyn-based, self-taught shamanic artist.

When did you first begin to make art?

My earliest memory is of melting crayons on the radiator, so that I could watch the colors drip. When I was about five or six, I started to draw.

What inspired you at the time?

I used to watch my father draw caricatures. I was fascinated.

Are there any other early art-related memories that stand out?

Growing up in Hells Kitchen, I attended Catholic school for twelve years. When I was 7 years old, I drew an image of Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs eating nuns. My classmates loved it. But the nuns didn’t; they were horrified. They responded to it by slapping me across my knuckles.

How did your family respond to your early art-making?

Both my parents were encouraging. They loved what I did.

What about your particular visionary aesthetic? When and how did that evolve?

When I was sixteen, I started to explore psychedelics — such as mescaline and peyote — and I began to have visions. I started then to create art that reflected an alternate consciousness. I felt as though I was connecting to the Godhead of infinite love.

Are there any specific cultures that have inspired or influenced your visionary aesthetic?

Among those that have influenced me are indigenous cultures… aboriginal, prehistoric and African.

Are there artists out there who particularly inspire you? Who impact your visionary aesthetic — or whose aesthetic you relate to?

Yes! Among them are: Alex Grey, Amanda Sage, Olga Klimova, Android Jones and Juan Carlos Taminichi

What about other artists? Who are some of your favorite artists?

They include: the visionary artist and poet William Blake; the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch; the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali and the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Do you have a formal art education?

No. I never went to art school.

Your artwork can be amazingly detailed. Approximately how long does it take you to complete a piece?

Anywhere between 40-60 hours.

Are you generally satisfied with your final piece?

There is always room for improvement; I sometimes go back to a “finished” piece and tweak it.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

I’d say somewhere between 5-7 hours a day are devoted to visual art.

How has your art evolved through the years? 

Originally creating art was a hobby; I didn’t take it seriously. But as I grew, I began to see myself as a vessel for the art to express itself. And it became very important to me. I’ve, also,  expanded my range of media to include sculpture, 3-D art and digital art.

Have you shown your work in galleries?

Mostly in alternative venues. My work has been exhibited abroad in England, Spain, Peru, and here in the US in New Orleans and in New York.

You do quite a bit of live painting. What is that like?

I see it as sacred form of communication with the people who are around me.

I discovered your particular aesthetic while visiting the STEAM Mural Project  at PS 9 in Prospect Heights. When did you first paint in a public space?

The first public mural that I painted was in 2005 in East Yorkshire, England.

And since then?

Among the places I’ve painted outdoor murals are North Bergen, New Jersey and Tarapoto, Peru. And last year, I painted New York’s first black light street art at Underhill Walls here in Brooklyn.

What are some of your other interests?

I also produce films, direct music videos, compose and play music and write poetry.

That’s quite impressive! What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

To heal and to raise consciousness. I see myself as a conduit to a higher consciousness.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos of Myztico Campo‘s artwork — as seen in his Brooklyn studio/living space — and of his PS 9 mural by Lois Stavsky 

Directed by Myztico Campo, the featured video stars Dakota Day, co-founder and lead vocalist for the psychedelic soul band Brooklyn Bonez, performing Buddy Guy’s “Skin Deep.”

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An exuberant celebration of “invention, creativity, curiosity and hands-on learning,” the 9th Annual World Maker Faire New York took place this past weekend on the grounds of the New York Hall of Science in Flushing, Queens. Among this year’s exhibitors was Ad Hoc Art, presenting live truck painting, along with live T-shirt screen printing. While there, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Ad Hoc Art owner and co-founder Garrison Buxton (pictured below with Maker Faire director Sabrina Merlo).

What an extraordinary event this is! So much is going on here — from inventive exhibits to immersive workshops to interactive hands-on learning. Can you tell us something about Maker Faire? Its mission?

Among its missions is to celebrate creativity, while inspiring inquisitive dreamers to realize and share their dreams in any number of fields — be they art, science, technology…

How did you become engaged with Maker Faire? What spurred you to participate in this year’s festival?

Geoff Taylor — whose brother I had previously worked with — approached me about participating in this year’s World Maker Faire New York. And since I love its approach to the concepts of both community-engagement and collaborative art-making, we’re here!

These trucks look great, and the kids who come by are fascinated by them. Why did you choose to use trucks as the canvas for this live art-making project? 

I love their mobility, as so many people will have the opportunity to see them. And the art is likely to last.

How did you select which artists to include?

I wanted a balance of men and women, and they are all artists I’ve worked with in previous projects through Ad Hoc Art, including the Welling Court Mural Project.

How have folks responded to what you have brought to World Maker Faire New York?

The response has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic! And we’ve been awarded two blue ribbons from the festival’s organizers!

That’s great! I’m so looking forward to next year’s World Maker Faire New York!

Images:

  1. Gera Luz (standing) in collaboration with Werc
  2. Garrison Buxton with Sabrina Merlo
  3. Outer Source at work
  4. Jenna Morello
  5. Cern posing in front of huge segment of his truck mural
  6. Screen-printing by Peter J. McGouran

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; 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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I stopped by HG Contemporary‘s impressive new gallery space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn yesterday as several artists were busy at work preparing for tonight’s official launch.

After checking it out, I had the opportunity to speak with Sean Sullivan who, along with Harris Lobel, has curated the gallery’s opening exhibit:

This space is ideal, and the artwork looks wonderful! How did the opportunity come your way to curate this exhibit for HG Contemporary‘s grand opening here in Williamsburg?

Last month, Philippe Hoerle-Guggenheim, the founder of HG Contemporary in Chelsea, approached me and asked me if I would be interested in curating an exhibit along the lines of First City, the one I’d curated awhile back in Long Island.  I saw it as a great opportunity to give artists I admire a chance to exhibit alongside the fine artists who generally show at HG Contemporary.

How did you decide which artists to include?

That was difficult, as I would have liked to include many more. I chose artists with whom I’ve successfully worked with in the past, along with five others whose artwork I’ve admired, but with whom I’ve never worked. The final selection was a joint decision between me and Harris Lobel, who was involved in curating, along with me, the First City project. We were interested in showcasing the works of artists whom we believe deserve wide exposure.

I’m familiar with several of the artists — especially those whose work I’ve seen on the streets. Several, though, are new to me. Who are the artists that you both agreed to include in this grand opening?

Our final selection included: Albertus JosephZimer, Gumshoe, Jenna Krypell, Jason AckermanFridge, Jenna Morello, OG Millie and Reso 914.

There’s quite a diverse range of styles here. Had you a specific theme in mind?

We were interested in representing the various elements associated with street art and graffiti.  And so we sought a mix of images, words, letter technique, characters, color and flow.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this through?

As an artist who doesn’t like taking directions, I wasn’t all that comfortable giving directions to others. But it was something that I had to do. And it was difficult asking artists to put a halt to all that they were doing for two to three day, so that they could devote themselves for hours on end to this project.

I’m certain that many artists who worked with you in the past were disappointed that they weren’t included in such a significant exhibit.

Definitely! I was getting too many nasty direct messages. Dealing with that was another huge challenge. Of course, I would have loved to include more artists, and I do hope to include many others in future exhibits that I look forward to curating in this space.

In addition to the works painted directly onto the walls here, what else can visitors to the gallery expect to see?

All of the artists who are partipating will also exhibit works on canvas that are for sale. And in addition to the artists that Harris and I have brought in, HG Contemporary will be presenting a special installation by Franz Klainsek and works by Tim Bengel and Carl McCrow.

And how can folks who can’t make it to the official grand opening see the exhibit?

The gallery is conveniently located at 66 North 3rd Street off Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn .All are invited to visit the gallery during its regular opening hours.

Images

  1. Albertus Joseph
  2. Layer Cake
  3. Zimer
  4. Gumshoe
  5. Jenna Krypell
  6. Jason Ackerman & Fridge
  7. Jenna Morello
  8. OG Milli
  9. Reso 914

Interview and 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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Featured above is a mural fashioned by the renowned Italian artist Pixel Pancho.  Several more images — all captured by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad — that surfaced at last month’s hugely popular Wide Open Walls Festival in Sacramento, California follow:

Hera of the German duo Herakut

Berlin-based, Argentine artist Guido Palmadessa

 Mexican native, LA-based Ilse Valfré

Brazilian artist Mateus Bailon , close-up

NYC-based Tom Bob

Organized by David Sobon and Branded Arts, the annual Wide Open Walls is the largest open air art festival in the USA. You can download a printiable mural map with exact locations here.

Photos by Karin du Maire

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Dedicated to promoting and celebrating public art, Wide Open Walls held its annual festival from August 9 – 19 in Sacramento, California. Local, national and international artists converged once again to transform the city into a tantalizing open air museum, featuring a wide range of diverse artworks. Organized by David Sobon and Branded Arts, it is the largest open air art festival in the USA. The mural pictured above — depicting Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison is the work of Shepard Fairey aka Obey — his largest mural ever in California. What follows are several more images — all captured by NYC-based travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad.

LA-based Shepard Fairey aka Obey mural in progress

Shenyang, China native Lin Fei Fei

Local artist Michele Murtaugh at work

San Francisco-based Monty Guy at work

Portuguese artist Bordalo II

NYC-based Fench artist Hugo Kriegel 

Photos by Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad

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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When the students return tomorrow to PS9 — a public elementary school in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn — they will be greeted not only by their friends and their teachers, but, also, by a delightful array of murals fashioned by a wonderfully eclectic mix of artists. Curated by Jeff Beler, the STEAM Mural Project is a model of community arts engagement. While visiting the school, I had the opportunity to speak to Jeff.

Can you tell us a bit about the background of this project? What initially prompted you to organize the STEAM Mural Project?

Last October while I was installing the nearby Underhill Walls, a local neighbor stopped by and told me about the recent death of Clara Ely, a six-year old girl who had been a student at PS 9. I thought it would be a great idea to create some kind of outdoor memorial as a tribute to her. When I approached the principal of the school, Sandra D’Avilar, with my concept, she enthusiastically approved. And then this past spring a group of artists came together and created a series of murals celebrating Clara’s life. That was the beginning!

How did it the mural project expand from “Clara’s Garden” into something as extensive as what is happening now?

At the end of May, I was approached by PS 9 parent, Mike Tilley. He, along with other members of the local community, loved what we had done and encouraged us to continue what had been started.

And so when did the STEAM Mural Project officially begin?

It kicked off in June with 5th graders — under the supervision of  PS 9’s Visual Arts teacher — painting alongside Chris RWK and Zimad.

You’ve been working pretty much non-stop since the project began. What is it about the STEAM Mural Project that so engages you? 

I love kids, and I love art. I love how art communicates.  I’ve lived in this community for 13 years and curating this project gives me an opportunity to give back to a neighborhood that has given me so much.

You involved 75 artists in the STEAM Mural Project. How did you connect with so many?

Some are friends; others were suggested by friends, and several connected with me through Instagram. They saw what was happening, and they wanted to be a part of it.

What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in seeing this project through?

Because the community has been so supportive, the challenges have been minimal. Among them was making sure that all of the supplies — especially the ladders that were needed — were at hand.  Coordinating schedules was, also, a challenge, as was dealing with the unpredictable, sometime stormy, weather.

The local community seems to have been wonderful in terms of its enthusiasim and support!

Yes! It’s been 100% fantastic. People are forever saying, “Thank you!”

What’s ahead for the STEAM Mural Project?

Plans are now underway for a carnival that will take place on the grounds of PS 9 on Saturday, September 22. There will be DJ’s and live music and a chance for the entire community to meet and greet the artists. And a special reception will be held at 2:00 for the official unveiling of Zimer‘s portrait of Sierra Leone native and war survivor and Dutch National Ballet soloist Michaela DePrince with her sister in attendance.

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

I’m involved with the upcoming Chile Pepper Festival that will take place at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on September 29th. I’m curating the next edition of Underhill Walls that will be installed in mid-October. I’m also organizing a mural project for PS 316 on Classon Avenue and Park Place.

It sounds wonderful! Good luck with it all!

Images:

  1. Vince Ballentine
  2.  Adam Fu
  3. Charrow and Sean Slaney
  4. Justin Winslow and Peter McMath
  5. PS 9 5th graders at work
  6. Chris RWK
  7. Zimer
  8. Miss Zukie
  9. Myztico Campo
  10. Jappy Agoncillo
  11. Jeff Henriquez
  12. Subway Doodle with a fragment of Fluidtoons on left

Photo credits: 1-4, 8-11 Lois Stavsky; 5 & 7 Jeff Beler, and 6 & 12 Rachel Fawn Alban

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The annual Jersey Fresh Jam, Trenton’s premier urban arts festival, was held last Saturday, August 11. Arts educator and photographer Rachel Fawn Alban was there to capture the action as local and regional artists converged — despite intermittent bouts of rain — to bring their talents to the walls of Terracycle INC. What emerged was a wonderful fusion of graffiti and mural art representing a range of sensibilities, styles and themes. Pictured above — from left to right — are Damien Mitchell, Puppet Master Icky and Colombian artist Joems. Several more photos captured by Rachel follow:

Damien Mitchell at work

SoulsNYC with spray can and cell phone in hand

Meres at work with Mek on top

Kes1 at work — in collaboration with Seoz

Ras at work

Ron with multiple spray cans in hand

Photos by Rachel Fawn Alban

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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Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to meet up with Poornima Sukumar. A muralist and community artist based in India, she is the founder and director of  the Aravani Art Project, a collective that creates spaces for people from the transgender community to connect with other communities and cultures in their local neighborhoods. In July 2016, Poornima was invited to present the Aravani Art Project at the Global Youth Forum, and she was hosted by the World Bank as a panellist for the LGBTQIA+ discussion in Washington DC. She is also a TEDx speaker.

What is the mission of the Aravani Art Project? Can you tell us a bit about it?

It aims to create a collective space for people from the transgender community by engaging them in public art and other interventions. We are interested in providing opportunities for members of the transgender community to collaborate with artists, photographers, filmmakers and general members of society to voice issues and engage in dialogues. We want to help society see people from the transgender community in a new light. We also make an effort to become invested in their personal lives. We look out for them just as we would look out for our own friends. The projects are completely built on trust and friendship, and friends always look out for each other! We are intent, in fact, on providing members of the transgender community with access to health care, as well as the skills they need to procure jobs.

When was it started? And why?

It began in January, 2016. After 3 ½ years of working on a film about the transgender community in India and making close friends among members of that community, I wanted to remain involved.  I was concerned about the violence and the prejudice that so many of them encounter. I felt the need to bridge the gap between  members of the their community and society, at large.

Who are some of the other folks who have worked with you in implementing your mission?

Among them are: Sadhna Prasad, who serves as the project’s art director; trans leaders Shanthi Sonu and Priyanka Divaakar and trans artists Chandri and Purushi.

About how many people has the Aravani Art Project engaged so far?

Since the project began in 2016, we’ve engaged over 1,000 folks in 25 projects.

How have you made these opportunities for collaboration and exchange happen? That’s quite an impressive number of projects.

As a muralist and illustrator, I know many artists. We’ve also received commisions. This past year, Facebook, in fact, invited us to their office in San Francisco.

How has the general community responded to the Aravani Art Project?

Very beautifully – folks open up to us slowly, and, organically, folks want to connect.

And what about the name Aravani? What is its significance?

The term Aravani means a person who worships Lord Aravan, the patron God of the transgenders.

What’s ahead?

We are looking to forge more collaborations internationally and reach out to more communities whose voices remain unheard. We are planning two projects abroad and five in India. We are always seeking visibility.

How can folks become engaged in your projects?

We are eager to engage all folks — straight, gay, transgender — in implementing our projects. And if you are interested in becoming involved, you can write to us here.

That sounds great! And we look forward to seeing you back in NYC with the Aravani Art Project!

Interview by Lois Stavsky with Bonnie Astor; all photos courtesy the Aravani Art Project

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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