NYC

Michael alan ink An Artist and His Studio: With Michael Alan in Bushwick

Ranging from the mischievous to the mystical, Michael Alan‘s ever-evolving body of artwork always entices.  We recently had the opportunity to visit the prodigious artist’s studio and find out a bit about it and its role in his life.

What a great space in such an ideal building! How long have you been here?

I’ve been in this building for two years. I first began sharing a studio here with Nick Greenwald, an illustrator. That was soon after I had lost my previous space to a flood at my home in Staten Island. And when Ashley Azelinskie – who oversees this building — saw his much work I was doing, she provided me with this studio.

Your studio has such a warm vibe. It is so welcoming.

Yes! I have tried to duplicate the aesthetics of my home. I want to work in a place that is relaxed and motivating.

Michael alan varied figures An Artist and His Studio: With Michael Alan in Bushwick

How did you decide what to transport here to keep you company?

I chose to bring over the artwork, books, magazines and toy sculptures that matter the most to me.

Yes! I’ve noticed baseball cards — that you’ve refashioned — that must have been with you since your childhood. And your black books date back years! What about the logistics of moving everything here and setting it up?

I had put an ad on my Instagram – “Help me move, and we can draw,” — and 40 people showed up.  Then once I was here, Michael Kronenberg, a formerly homeless friend of mine — who’d been released from Bellevue after trying to harm himself — helped me curate the space. The studio is a place — for not just me — to create positivity. I wanted him to have a space he could work with me on, and not end up in a bad space again. He had landed in Bellevue after losing hope in art and ever attaining success. He is a talented artist, and I wanted to encourage him not to let others take him down. And my friend, Janna, helped me turn it into a home. It took about two to three weeks.

michael alan works in studio An Artist and His Studio: With Michael Alan in Bushwick

What role does this studio play in your life?

It is my life. My sanctuary. A constant show for myself. I’d always been hesitant to look at my stuff. But now I do. I even put a book together here.

Can you tell us something about what has gone down here — in addition to what you paint, draw and endlessly create?

We host weekly performances and drawing groups that have attracted folks ranging in age from 18 – 70. People of all styles and skill levels are welcome. The next one will be held this coming Saturday evening, March 25th beginning at 8pm. Tickets and more information are available here.   Musicians have performed here, including Ramsey Jones of the Wu Tang Clan. Alan Ket has been here filming a documentary in which I am one of the featured artists. And I give tours to college kids and collectors here.

Michael alan ink and more An Artist and His Studio: With Michael Alan in Bushwick

How do you feel about this neighborhood — Bushwick?

These days I spend most of my life here. I like this building, and I like the people in it. But Bushwick is not my neighborhood. I find the gentrification here distasteful. The friends I grew up with couldn’t afford to live here. But I’m happy to have a studio here, as so many studios in NYC are infested with drugs, roaches and rats, along with people you don’t want to be around. I’ve been in studios where things were stolen from me and where my mother got robbed.

It’s great that you have this now. What’s ahead for you — in addition to everything that is happening in this space? 

I’m preparing for a solo show in a new, huge gallery, Space 42, in Jacksonville, Florida. It will open on Friday, April 28th at 7pm.

Michael alan face An Artist and His Studio: With Michael Alan in Bushwick

 Good luck!  It all sounds great!

Photos of images: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4 Tara Murray & 5 Michael Alan

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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lmnopi Tara Houska detail 2 Lmnopi on Street Art, Gentrification, Her Mission as an Artist & more

With her passion for justice and her elegant aesthetic, Brooklyn-based Lmnopi has been enhancing public spaces in NYC and beyond while raising our consciousness. I recently had the opportunity to visit her studio and speak to her:

When and where did your artwork first surface here on NYC walls?

I pasted up the first time in 2008, in Williamsburg, a stencil of my cat, Joe. I think it was on North 9th Street.

What inspired you to do so?

The thrill of lawlessness. Freedom, beauty, passion and communication beyond gallery walls. I just felt like it.

lmnopi street art Delon the Pigeon Lmnopi on Street Art, Gentrification, Her Mission as an Artist & more

Was there anyone in particular who inspired you to hit the streets?

I remember hanging out at Ad Hoc Art on Bogart Street a bunch and meeting other artists there. Chris Stain gave me some solid advice early on about stencil painting. I used to be really into C215. I love the artist Blu. He’s probably my all time favorite, actually. It wasn’t any one person though… more the lure of freedom that inspired me.

You’ve gotten up and painted in legal spots – such as Welling Court Mural Project and Arts Org in Queens. Yet much of what you do is unsanctioned. Have you any preference?

I prefer pasting up without permission. I have favorite places that I revisit now and again. It takes me awhile to pick my spots; I watch them for a little while first. Placement becomes more important when your paste-up is the only one in existence at a particular site. I also love the aesthetic of decay as erosion happens. Right now there is a piece of mine on Jefferson — that has been there for so many years — all that is left are her eyes and her mouth. It’s uncanny how that happens. It makes me pause and wonder: Why did her eyes and mouth stay the longest? What’s that about?

Have you any preferred surfaces?

My favorite is plywood. My least favorite is brick. I love pasting on glass, especially new condo windows.

LMNOPI Water Protector WIP Lmnopi on Street Art, Gentrification, Her Mission as an Artist & more

How do you feel about the increasing tie-in between street art and gentrification? The role of street art in gentrification?

People often blame gentrification on artists — instead of the underlying cause which is capitalism. Street artists are often used as tools for real estate CEO’s to increase their property’s value. However, it’s up to us as artists to decide if our work serves the community’s interest or the profit motive. I try to approach my work with the community in mind. When painting a mural on someone’s block, I take into consideration who lives there and how can I reflect their reality in my work. As great as it is to see tons of murals on walls, it turns people’s neighborhoods into destinations for outsiders to spend money in businesses that are run by non-local owners, so the financial benefit is not kept within the community, at all. The neighborhood becomes hollowed out; a place where people who grew up feel they no longer belong or can afford to live. The money spent there leaves the neighborhood when bodegas are run out by bourgie delis and trendy cafes and bars. When rich developers from other countries altogether come in and tear down perfectly good buildings and build hideous condos, it rips a hole in a community. It changes the landscape, removes the character and homogenizes the place. Gentrification is essentially urban colonialism. Creating community run-organizations which provide gathering spaces not centered around commerce and profit,  but instead around: discussion; education; making art, growing food; organizing and sharing resources, is an effective way to combat gentrification.

Yes! And in the current political climate — more necessary than ever.  I’ve also seen your work in gallery settings. How do you feel about bringing street art into galleries?

I enjoy group shows and getting out and being with the community of other street artists. I like to make miniatures of my murals for folks who want to bring them home and live with them. I struggle with the dissonance between anti-capitalism and the need to survive in a capitalist society. But it’s a great feeling to sell work.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I generally prefer working alone. but in the context of a larger community working towards change, I prefer being part of that wave.

lmnopi Backwater singer Lmnopi on Street Art, Gentrification, Her Mission as an Artist & more

Are there any other artists with whom you’d like to collaborate?

I look for certain people when I am out scouting locations, locally. It’s like having a delayed visual conversation on the street with other wheat paste artists like Myth NYCity KittyEl Sol 25, QRST, Sean Lugo… I also am inspired by the work the Justseeds cooperative is doing. Art and propaganda are like cinnamon and sugar on toast. So delicious. I’d like to collaborate with Chip Thomas from the Painted Desert Project. I also hope to do some painting in Indian country soon. I want to collaborate with people who are also committed to environmental justice.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Yes. I feel like they come alive.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Most of it when I am not sleeping or gardening or exploring.

lmnopi refugees are welcome Lmnopi on Street Art, Gentrification, Her Mission as an Artist & more

Have you a formal art education?

Yes. I studied painting and printmaking at SUNY Purchase where I got my BFA.  But most of what I am doing now is all self-taught.

What is your ideal working environment?

I’d love to have a studio in a straw bale house on land by a river with enough open area to grow food and enough forested area to forage wild mushrooms. I have a tiny studio which works all right for the time being, though, with my rooftop garden here in Brooklyn.

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

The Internet never forgets…which can be good or bad depending on what is out there to not be forgotten. For my kind of work, which is ephemeral by nature, it’s great. I love instagram because I get to see fellow artists’ work from all over the world. There is little static; it’s all visual. But as someone who was an adult before the phenomenon of the Internet existed, there was something really profound about seeing work in person that seems a bit lost now because everything is so accessible. People don’t have to travel to see anything; they just click around. Maybe that promotes a devaluation of work. I make a lot of work, but I don’t put a lot up. I think less is more…kind of a homeopathic approach.

lmnopi Indiria 2015 Lmnopi on Street Art, Gentrification, Her Mission as an Artist & more

Did any particular cultures influence you?

Ancient wall art. Petroglyphs. The earliest known graffiti art. I’ve seen them in person and it’s a mystical experience being in the presence of art that old.

How has your art evolved in the past few years?

From paint brush to x-acto knife back to paint brush. I went from painting with oils – high brow – to materials I could buy in a hardware store. The transition from oil painting was through stencils and spray paint. But I got really sick of using an exacto knife…too rigid. I love the paint brush. These days I like painting with house paint the most.

Do you work from a sketch or do you just let it flow?

When doing a mural, I sketch it out first; usually, I make a small painting of it prior to getting up on the wall.  When I am working in my studio, I just go to it.

lmnopi earth revolution street art nyc Lmnopi on Street Art, Gentrification, Her Mission as an Artist & more

What inspires you these days – with both your street art and studio art?

Right now my heart is very much with frontline communities who are bearing the brunt of the fall out from the corporate take over of the government: climate change (aka climate chaos), the fight against the fossil fuel industrial complex, the plight of kids caught in refugee situations and the Indigenous environmental movement. I am working from these struggles — working to communicate and amplify those voices, especially those of women, elders and kids.

What’s ahead?

I’m busy making art about everything that everyone else I know is also freaking out about. I am working on staying calm and making self-care a priority so I don’t burn out. I am developing some prints from paintings and drawings, a way to duplicate my work to make it more accessible for people who might enjoy having it or wearing it. I am thinking in terms of how to translate the continuous tone of painting into printable dot and line patterns for printing. I love the aesthetic of engravingsl and I have been training myself to paint in a way that mimics it. I am weaving the concept of editions that was possible with stencils together with the language of paint strokes I have been cultivating. In my painting practice, I have been destroying the object in a sense, breaking up the portrait with under-paintings of topographical maps, macro designs from botanicals and geometric forms and bringing in the occasional surrealistic imagery..Travel and time in nature are ahead of me and more frontline stands, hopefully some hot springs, plenty of walls to paint out there and forgotten doorways to paste up in.

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

Artists are change makers and translators; art transcends borders and language barriers. Art is a unifying force. Artists can speak truth to power. We can show that the emperor is not wearing any trousers. We have artistic license; so far we still have free speech. We lift people’s spirits and let them know they are seen. We embolden people to laugh at fear. We clear out tear ducts.

Note: You can follow Lmnopi on her Instagram here and check out her online store here.

Interview by Lois Stavsky; all images courtesy of the artist

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icy and sot stencil world trade center Speaking with Joshua Geyer at 4 World Trade Center

This past Sunday, we had the opportunity to meet up with Joshua Geyer, one of the curators of the current installation on the 69th floor of 4 World Trade Center. Curious about it all, we posed a few questions to him:

Joshua Geyer and Chris RWK art Speaking with Joshua Geyer at 4 World Trade Center

We’ve been seeing more artwork by street artists indoors these past few months — in a wide range of unlikely settings — than on the streets. Whose concept was it to turn this floor into a showcase for street art and graffiti?

Several executives who work in this building had visited the World Trade Gallery awhile back, and they loved the art that was exhibited there. It was their idea to invite street artists to paint on this floor.

And how did you become involved with this project?

Last March, I had curated an exhibit at the World Trade Gallery that featured works by over a dozen street artists. And so I was invited back to work on this project.

buff monster mural art world trade center Speaking with Joshua Geyer at 4 World Trade Center

Which of these artists did you, personally, engage in this project?

The artists I invited to paint here include: Icy and Sot, Sonni, Cern, Fanakapan, Rubin, Hellbent, Buff Monster, Chris RWK, Jackfox, UR New York, Erasmo and Basil Sema.

How did you decide which ones  to invite?

I chose artists I know — whom I’ve worked with in the past — whose art would work in this particular setting.

cern mural art world trace center Speaking with Joshua Geyer at 4 World Trade Center

Did this project present any distinct challenges?

This was the first time I’d ever worked with other curators. That was a definite challenge, as we didn’t all have the same vision, and each one of us worked independently. I generally curate on my own. And when I work with Centre-fuge Public Art Project, every decision is made collaboratively, and we are all pretty much on the same page.  But I did learn about different approaches to curating a space and navigating my way through different visions.

Who were some of the other curators?

Among them are: Caitlin CrewsSean Sullivan and Bobby Grandone

fanakapan scultpture wtc Speaking with Joshua Geyer at 4 World Trade Center

Within the past few weeks, there have been quite a few discussions about the need to financially compensate all artists for work they do within corporate settings. What are your thoughts on this issue?

I absolutely agree. Unfortunately, the art world doesn’t always come through. Creatives can be easily exploited. And if this doesn’t change, we will continue to lose many talented artists. But lots of positive things are happening now in this space.

Can you tell us about that?

Yes. Many students — from local elementary schools to the Parsons School of Design — have visited. They’ve had the opportunity to meet artists and speak to curators, and their response has been great. I look forward to more school visits. And I am hoping, of course, that the artists who painted here will attract clients and gain future opportunities.

jack fox art Speaking with Joshua Geyer at 4 World Trade Center

How can folks visit this space? Is it ever open to the public?

I will be giving weekly tours. For specific information and to set an appointment, I can be reached at Tower4Arts@gmail.com. I would love to have schools — and art teachers, in particular — reach out to me.

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

Later this spring I will be joining several artists — including Vexta, Faith47 and Alexis Diaz — on a trip to El Salvador facilitated by the United Nations. I will be doing a photography workshop with kids, and we will be wheat-pasting their photos outdoors. And currently I’m working with No Longer Empty, with plans underway for an exhibit in Brownsville.

sonni mural art world trade center Speaking with Joshua Geyer at 4 World Trade Center

That all sounds great! We’re looking forward to hearing about your experiences.

Note: The images featured in this post were among those curated by Joshua Geyer. Keep posted to the StreetArtNYC Facebook page for additional images of artworks in this space.

Images

Icy and Sot

2 Josh standing next to Chris RWK

Buff Monster, with fragments of Hellbent to the side

Cern

Fanakapan

Jackfox

Sonni

Photos & interview by Lois Stavsky

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BXFoxx JMZ Walls Bushwick street art nyc Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

“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.

Thia govaldi and 17 matrix jmz walls bushwick nyc Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

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.

for jmz walls bushwick street art nyc Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

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.

kes jmz walls graffiti bushwick Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

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.

spraycam street art jmz walls Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

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.

en play badge 2 Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

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Sticker art NoLita NYC NYC Sticker Art — Part V: Rx Skulls, Chris RWK & K Nor, Todd Colby, Nany Coy, Bines, RAE BK and more

This is the fifth in a serious of occasional posts documenting the range of stickers — from the playful to the political — that surface on NYC public spaces. The one pictured above by Rx Skulls was spotted on the Lower East Side. Here are several more:

Unidentified artist on the Upper West Side

Upper west side sticker art nycjpg NYC Sticker Art — Part V: Rx Skulls, Chris RWK & K Nor, Todd Colby, Nany Coy, Bines, RAE BK and more

Chris RWK and K-Nor on the Lower East Side

robots will kill sticker art nyc NYC Sticker Art — Part V: Rx Skulls, Chris RWK & K Nor, Todd Colby, Nany Coy, Bines, RAE BK and more

Todd Colby with a question in Chelsea

Todd colby sticker nyc NYC Sticker Art — Part V: Rx Skulls, Chris RWK & K Nor, Todd Colby, Nany Coy, Bines, RAE BK and more

Colombian artist Nany Coy in East Harlem

nanny Coy rat sticker East Harlem NYC Sticker Art — Part V: Rx Skulls, Chris RWK & K Nor, Todd Colby, Nany Coy, Bines, RAE BK and more

Bines on the Lower East Side

Bines sticker art NYC Sticker Art — Part V: Rx Skulls, Chris RWK & K Nor, Todd Colby, Nany Coy, Bines, RAE BK and more

RAE BK in Bushwick

rae sticker bushwick NYC Sticker Art — Part V: Rx Skulls, Chris RWK & K Nor, Todd Colby, Nany Coy, Bines, RAE BK and more

Trump — with creative Nazi insignia — spotted on the Lower East Side; artist to be identified 

trump as nazi NYC Sticker Art — Part V: Rx Skulls, Chris RWK & K Nor, Todd Colby, Nany Coy, Bines, RAE BK and more

A political statement on the Upper West Side

political sticker NYC NYC Sticker Art — Part V: Rx Skulls, Chris RWK & K Nor, Todd Colby, Nany Coy, Bines, RAE BK and more

Photos 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.

en play badge 2 NYC Sticker Art — Part V: Rx Skulls, Chris RWK & K Nor, Todd Colby, Nany Coy, Bines, RAE BK and more

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Hektad and Urbanimal Repurposed art Fat Free Art <em>Bizarre Bazaar</em>: A Found Art Exhibit at Fat Free Art with Hektad, Urbanimal, Raphael Gonzalez, Tomaso Albertini, What Will You Leave Behind, Icy and Sot, Bianca Romero, SacSix, JPO, Suckadelic & more

An extraordinary array of found objects have been transformed into intriguing repurposed art for Fat Free Art‘s first annual Bizarre Bazaar.  Pictured above is Hektad‘s American graffiti flag looming over Urbanimal‘s table. Here are severel more works from this stylishly imaginative exhibit.

Raphael Gonzalez, An Ciana

raphael gonzalez photo repurposed fat free art <em>Bizarre Bazaar</em>: A Found Art Exhibit at Fat Free Art with Hektad, Urbanimal, Raphael Gonzalez, Tomaso Albertini, What Will You Leave Behind, Icy and Sot, Bianca Romero, SacSix, JPO, Suckadelic & more

Tomaso Albertini, Butterfly Effect, huge segment of framed piece

Thomas albertini repurposed fat free art segment <em>Bizarre Bazaar</em>: A Found Art Exhibit at Fat Free Art with Hektad, Urbanimal, Raphael Gonzalez, Tomaso Albertini, What Will You Leave Behind, Icy and Sot, Bianca Romero, SacSix, JPO, Suckadelic & more

What Will You Leave Behind, Worth Nothing

What will you leave behind repurposed fat free art <em>Bizarre Bazaar</em>: A Found Art Exhibit at Fat Free Art with Hektad, Urbanimal, Raphael Gonzalez, Tomaso Albertini, What Will You Leave Behind, Icy and Sot, Bianca Romero, SacSix, JPO, Suckadelic & more

Icy and Sot, Let Her Be Free

icy and sot repurposed fat free art <em>Bizarre Bazaar</em>: A Found Art Exhibit at Fat Free Art with Hektad, Urbanimal, Raphael Gonzalez, Tomaso Albertini, What Will You Leave Behind, Icy and Sot, Bianca Romero, SacSix, JPO, Suckadelic & more

Bianca Romero, The Muse Says — to the right of  Hektad‘s spray cans — and shoes designed by SacSix on shelf below

hektad bianca romero and sacsix repurposed art <em>Bizarre Bazaar</em>: A Found Art Exhibit at Fat Free Art with Hektad, Urbanimal, Raphael Gonzalez, Tomaso Albertini, What Will You Leave Behind, Icy and Sot, Bianca Romero, SacSix, JPO, Suckadelic & more

JPO, 3 of a Kind

JPO repurposed fat free art <em>Bizarre Bazaar</em>: A Found Art Exhibit at Fat Free Art with Hektad, Urbanimal, Raphael Gonzalez, Tomaso Albertini, What Will You Leave Behind, Icy and Sot, Bianca Romero, SacSix, JPO, Suckadelic & more

Suckadelic, Pussy Grabs Back

suck lord repurposed fat free art <em>Bizarre Bazaar</em>: A Found Art Exhibit at Fat Free Art with Hektad, Urbanimal, Raphael Gonzalez, Tomaso Albertini, What Will You Leave Behind, Icy and Sot, Bianca Romero, SacSix, JPO, Suckadelic & more

The exhibit continues through March 4 at Fat Free Art, 102 Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It is open Tuesday – Saturday 11AM-7PM & Sunday 12PM-5PM,

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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

en play badge 2 <em>Bizarre Bazaar</em>: A Found Art Exhibit at Fat Free Art with Hektad, Urbanimal, Raphael Gonzalez, Tomaso Albertini, What Will You Leave Behind, Icy and Sot, Bianca Romero, SacSix, JPO, Suckadelic & more

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Dasic Fernandez and Rubin415 street art Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City</em>

Penned by photographer, writer, neuroscientist and street art aficionado, Yoav Litvin, 2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City is a distinctly elegant ode to the art of collaboration. Recently released by Schiffer Publishing, it was formally launched last month at the Bronx Museum of the Arts alongside a collaborative photography exhibit, 2gether: Portraits of Duos in Harlem and the South Bronx by Litvin and Tau Battice. A textual and visual documentation of the creative and collaborative process among nine pairs of artists, 2Create also presents first-hand accounts of each one’s early life and work.

Dasic Fernandez and Rubin415 paint Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City</em>

Featuring such duos from NYC-based Al Diaz and Jilly Ballistic to the Iranian brothers Icy and Sot, 2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City showcases a broad range of styles, sensibilities and processes. It also introduces us to the specific locale — from Manhattan’s Union Square Subway Station to a Greenpoint, Brooklyn rooftop — of each of the collaborative works featured. With its astute insights and superb design, it stands out among the dozens of street art-related books published last year.

bunnyM and Square paint street art Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City</em>

bunnyM and Square street art Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City</em>

After reading the book, I posed a few questions to Yoav:

Your first book, the highly acclaimed Outdoor Gallery: New York City, focused largely on individual artists. Why did you decide to focus on duos in this book? 

In contrast to other art forms, such as music or dance, the visual arts involve a more solitary practice. Painters are famous for being hermits: closing themselves off from the world in their studios where they paint their masterpieces. At least, that’s the popular narrative. I feel that because the visual arts are easily commodified and objectified, they have evolved in such a way.  While I was working on Outdoor Gallery, which focuses on 46 individual artists, I noticed several duos of street and graffiti artists who produced incredible works, and I was fascinated by their practices. In 2Create I seek to investigate the art and practice of collaboration in different mediums — collage work, screen printing, stenciling, graffiti and mural making. My goal with 2Create is twofold: to present the behind-the-scenes processes of these artists and to investigate the secrets of collaboration, with the ultimate aim of encouraging others to create together. Just like any skill, collaboration needs to be practiced!

Dain and Stikki Peaches Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City</em>

How did you decide which duos to feature in 2Create?

My process with 2Create was mostly democratic. I was looking to present a diversity of styles, messages, mediums and locales. I am cognizant and weary of the politics involved in the arts and attempted to focus on artists that I felt were doing radical, innovative work and were constantly challenging themselves. Throughout my research on collaborations, I discovered there were two major categories that lie on a continuum — from complementary collaborations – individual works presented side by side – to integrative, a single piece that seamlessly integrates the work of two artists. I chose nine duos that present the full spectrum.

Icy and Sot Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City</em>

Icy and Sot paint Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City</em>

What insights did you, yourself, gain into the collaborative process, particularly among visual artists?

Collaboration is a skill that should be practiced by any visual artist as part of his/her development. Collaboration is an exciting and stimulating process that can produce immense growth if approached correctly, but can be very challenging at times. An artist needs to respect and trust his or her collaborator and be willing to be adaptable and open to critique. The collaborative process can open new doors for an artist  – in techniques, messages, ideas and human connections that can be useful moving forward.

ASVP 2Create Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City</em>

The book, itself, is masterfully designed. Can you tell us something about that? 

For the design I worked with the designer Dan Michman, who is also an excellent childhood friend. It was important for me that every aspect of this project be collaborative. Dan is the best designer I know, plus I like him a lot and knew from experience that we’d collaborate well. Our process was incredible. Dan took my materials — images and texts — along with my notions on the artistic process and on collaboration, and created a stunning design “language” for the book. It was a truly integrative collaborative process. I could not be happier with the way it turned out. Plus, the cover design is simply stunning. Lastly, Schiffer Publishing did a great job in the book’s production.

2Create cover Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City</em>

How has the response been to 2Create?  Is there any particular readership you’d like to reach?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In addition to appealing to the street art and graffiti fan crowd, my hope is that 2Create will integrate as a text book for art schools, colleges and universities. I believe the behind-the-scenes process shots, the revealing interviews and the insight into the art of collaboration make it a unique resource for artists in general, and visual artists in particular. But 2Create is more than a book on art. It is a document that presents the collaborative duo as the basic unit of a collective humanity in which empathy and collaboration trump disregard and domination. In an era of the cult of celebrity, war and climate change, collective action is not only beneficial, it is necessary. 2Create expresses these radical notions and I hope it will serve to inspire activists fighting for the greater good.

For more listen to Yoav speak on Counterpunch Radio here.

Images

1 & 2 Rubin and Dasic 

3 & 4 Bunny M and Square 

5  Stikki Peaches and Dain

6 & 7 Icy & Sot

ASVP

All images © Yoav Litvin

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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sara erenthal art on piano Sara Erenthal Gives New Life to Discarded Objects on Park Slope Streets

A self-taught, multi-disciplinary artist, Sara Erenthal has a strong presence on the streets of Park Slope, Brooklyn. We recently spoke.

You’ve established quite a presence here on the streets of Park Slope. What keeps you coming back?

There is a lack of public art in Park Slope, and there seems to be a hunger for it. Folks here have been so receptive to what I am doing. They seem excited to have something interesting and different to look at.  Park Slope is where I am living these days, and so it’s easy for me to get around either by foot or by bike.

sara erenthal street art nyc Sara Erenthal Gives New Life to Discarded Objects on Park Slope Streets

With the exceptions of the walls you are commissioned to paint, your canvas is almost always some type of discarded object. Why is that?

Since folks take many of my works home with them, I feel that I am saving trash from ending up in landfills. Also – what I am doing is not illegal. I cannot take the legal risks of doing unsanctioned artworks that could land me with a fine, time in jail or both.

sara erenthal upcycled art nyc Sara Erenthal Gives New Life to Discarded Objects on Park Slope Streets

You almost always seem to be drawing faces. Can you tell us something about them?

They are variations of myself – subconscious portraits. Growing up in a cloistered ultra-Orthodox world, I was limited to just one hairstyle. The changes in the hairstyles represent the changes in myself.

sara erenthal mural art Sara Erenthal Gives New Life to Discarded Objects on Park Slope Streets

I’ve noticed folks stop and often photograph you while you are drawing.  Do any particular interactions with passersby stand out?

Yes! Recently a woman ran after me as I was rushing out of my house — in my pajamas — to the local health food store to buy some ginger. I was sick at the time. She asked me if she could bring her father – a huge fan since he had seen my work on a mattress — to meet me. He showed up almost instantly for his daughter to snap a photo of the two of us  – with me decked in my pajamas!

sara erenthal public art work park slope nyc Brooklyn Sara Erenthal Gives New Life to Discarded Objects on Park Slope Streets

In addition to your work on found objects, you’ve also painted on a range of sanctioned surfaces this past year. Any particular challenges? Any favorites?

Painting on a shuttered gate was definitely a challenge as I generally paint on flat surfaces. Among my favorites is the artwork that I painted at D’Vine Taste.

sara erenthal street art Park Slope Sara Erenthal Gives New Life to Discarded Objects on Park Slope Streets

Yes! I love the stark simplicity of the white on black. It’s beautiful! And what about the piano? How did that become your canvas?

A local pre-school threw it out last spring with a sign “Free piano.” Six months later it was still there. I asked then for permission to paint it. And I love that it is still there! I feel as though I gave it a new life.

sara erenthal make art from your heart NYC Sara Erenthal Gives New Life to Discarded Objects on Park Slope Streets

You did! What’s ahead? 

I am now preparing for a solo show to open at FiveMyles Gallery at 558 St Johns Place on March 9 from 6-9pm. And later in the spring, I will be exhibiting my work at Google’s New York site in Chelsea. An outdoor mural in Gowanus is also on the horizon.

I’m looking forward to it all! Good luck!

Photo credits: 1-5 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 6 Tara Murray; interview conducted and edited 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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Viajero mixed media 2016 A Visit to <em>Home, Memory, and Future</em> at Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institutes (CCCADI) New East Harlem Home

While visiting CCCADI’s inaugural exhibit in its new East Harlem home, I had the opportunity to speak to one of its curators, Regina Bultron-Bengoa

Just what is CCCADI?

The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute is a multi-disciplinary arts center that showcases and promotes the distinct contributions of African Diaspora cultures.

How would you define its mission?

Through arts, education and activism it strives to advance change by uniting the various cultures of the African Diaspora, while promoting their value.

Viajero installation close up A Visit to <em>Home, Memory, and Future</em> at Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institutes (CCCADI) New East Harlem Home

When was it originally established?

Dr. Marta Moreno Vega founded it in 1966 as a center where African and Native cultures of Caribbean and Latin American countries could be recognized and honored. Its first home was on East 87th Street and its last home was in a brownstone in Hell’s Kitchen.

Can you tell us something about its present locale here in this landmark space on East 125 Street in East Harlem?

A few years back, several shuttered landmark firehouses were offered to cultural institutions. With city and state support, nine million dollars were raised to renovate this particular historic one for CCCADI, and on September 16, 2004, we broke ground.

Scherezade Garcia Sea of Wonder 2016 A Visit to <em>Home, Memory, and Future</em> at Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institutes (CCCADI) New East Harlem Home

Who is its audience?

We have a wide audience from students and educators to arts professionals to families. We offer a huge range of free or low-cost exhibits, workshops and activities.

Your inaugural exhibit, Home, Memory, and Future is quite impressive. It is divided into three distinct parts.

Yes. Part I: Harlem: East and West features the works of three acclaimed photographers who have been documenting Harlem since the 70’s. Part II: Harlem and Home in the Global Context showcases artworks that suggest how cultural traditions are used to establish “home” in distant places. And Part III: Mi Quirido Barrio (My Beloved Community) – focusing on the social history of El Barrio — takes place outdoors and in cyberspace, using augmented reality. Among its themes are: migration, nostalgia for the past. gentrification and looking to the future.

che memorial wall east harlem nyc A Visit to <em>Home, Memory, and Future</em> at Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institutes (CCCADI) New East Harlem Home

Can you tell us some more about the outdoor element of the exhibit?

Yes. It features locations of importance within the social history of El Barrio. Among these are memorial walls painted on the streets – whose history is documented on a free mobile app, Blippar. Through augmented reality, the app allows us to bring the past to life.

That is quite amazing! How has the response been to CCCADI‘s new home and inaugural exhibit?

The response has been great. There were long lines for the fall opening, and folks who see it love the art and identify with it.

Chino Chan Memorial Mural El Barrio NYC A Visit to <em>Home, Memory, and Future</em> at Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institutes (CCCADI) New East Harlem Home

How can folks contact CCCADI if they would like to visit or become involved?

They can email: info@cccadi.org

Images 

1 & 2 Adrian “Viajero” Roman, Mixed media, 2016

3  Scherezade Garcia, Sea of Wonder, Mixed media, 2016

4 & 5 Oliver Rios & Luis Martinez, Memorial Walls, as seen on the Blippar app while on site

Photo credits: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4-5 Courtesy CCCADI

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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bio tats cru the art of peace <em>The Art of Peace</em> Opens Tonight at Avant Garde with Bio, Jerms, Danielle Mastrion, Murj, Hef, Stem and more

Curated by Lady K Fever and Kate StorchThe Art of Peace opens this evening from 6-10pm at Avant Garde on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. An art show and benefit in celebration of the NY Peace Coalition’s 6th Annual Peace December, it features the visual reflections of 31 artists on the theme of peace. Pictured above was painted by Bio, Tats Cru. Here are several more:

Jerms

jerms art of peace <em>The Art of Peace</em> Opens Tonight at Avant Garde with Bio, Jerms, Danielle Mastrion, Murj, Hef, Stem and more

Danielle Mastrion

danielle mastrion <em>The Art of Peace</em> Opens Tonight at Avant Garde with Bio, Jerms, Danielle Mastrion, Murj, Hef, Stem and more

Murj, close-up

murj the art of peace <em>The Art of Peace</em> Opens Tonight at Avant Garde with Bio, Jerms, Danielle Mastrion, Murj, Hef, Stem and more

Hef

Jamie Hef the art of peace <em>The Art of Peace</em> Opens Tonight at Avant Garde with Bio, Jerms, Danielle Mastrion, Murj, Hef, Stem and more

And Stem, YNN on a political note

stem political art <em>The Art of Peace</em> Opens Tonight at Avant Garde with Bio, Jerms, Danielle Mastrion, Murj, Hef, Stem and more

Curators Lady K Fever and Kate Storch in the gallery window — where there will be live painting tonight

Lady K Fever Kate storch curators <em>The Art of Peace</em> Opens Tonight at Avant Garde with Bio, Jerms, Danielle Mastrion, Murj, Hef, Stem and more

And if you can’t make it tonight or would like to return, the exhibit continues through New Years Day.

Peace Decembeer flyer <em>The Art of Peace</em> Opens Tonight at Avant Garde with Bio, Jerms, Danielle Mastrion, Murj, Hef, Stem and more

Photos: 1-4, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 5 courtesy of Lady K

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.

en play badge 2 <em>The Art of Peace</em> Opens Tonight at Avant Garde with Bio, Jerms, Danielle Mastrion, Murj, Hef, Stem and more

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