NYC

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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Continuing through this week at Avant Garde LES is Queens-based ZA ONE‘s exuberant solo exhibit, The Evolution of ZA ONE. While visiting last week, I had the chance to speak to its curator, Kate Storch.

ZA ONE is a style master; that is certainly evident here. And it was great fun watching him paint over at First Street Green Park last month. 

Yes! ZA ONE is a true artist. He is fearless in his determination to keep on pushing his craft further and further.  He spent the past two years working on these canvases.

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When did ZA ONE first hit the streets?

He first hit the streets in the mid-eighties. And in 2012, he started going all-city. It was non-stop adrenalin. He is a street killer, as well as a masterful artist.

How did you meet ZA ONE

Jerms introduced us about two years ago. I feel like ZA ONE was a gift. And I love the way he involves his children in his art.  He is a dedicated father, as well as a dedicated artist.

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How did the opening of the show go? I’ve heard great things about it!

Yes, it was amazing. There was so much love from other writers. And the exhibit attracted a wonderfully eclectic mix of people including fine artists and musicians.

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What’s next for you?

I’ve been busily planning and promoting this coming Friday’s Summer Classics Block Party in honor of National Hip Hop Day.

What can folks who attend it expect?

It will feature live DJs and some of the best graffiti artists and muralists — a mix of both legendary classics and contemporary talents.

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It sounds great! Good luck with it all!

Photos by Lois Stavsky; interview with Kate Storch 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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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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Portal, a thoroughly enticing exhibit of new artworks in a range of media by the legendary Brooklyn-based artist Plasma Slug, continues through tomorrow at ArtHelix, 289 Meserole Street in Bushwick. When I stopped by yesterday, I had the chance to pose a few questions to the artist.

This is so impressive! Can you tell us a bit about the title of this — your third solo exhibit?

Yes! The exhibit is a portal — an entrance — to another world. Viewers will step into something that will take them out of their routine and they will, hopefully, leave with their minds expanded.

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These are all new works. About how many are in this exhibit? And how long have you been working on this particular body of work?

There are over 40 new pieces, and I’ve been preparing for this exhibit for the past four months.

How do the works on exhibit here differ from your previous ones?

I did not use spray paint to create these new pieces; after much soul-searching, I decided to paint with a brush.

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And why is that?

It was a way for me to “cross over,” — to gain more respect as an artist. The tools we artists use are important as to how we are perceived.

Any other differences between these new works and your previous ones?

This is the first time I’m showing three-dimensional work.

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What prompted you to do that?

My son was flipping out over a 3-D chalk board he was using, and I liked the effect.

Everything here is so engaging, and your prices are so reasonable.  How can folks see the exhibit if they missed the opening or if they wish to see it again? I could spend hours here!

We’re open today and tomorrow, Sunday from 12-6.

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 Congratulations! It’s quite amazing!

Photos by Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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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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Frank+Ape+-+Over+The+Rainbow

Opening tonight at Contra Galleries at 122 West 26th Street in Chelsea is Over the Rainbow, an exhibit of new works by Frank Ape, the iconic character created by Brandon Sines. Curious about Frank Ape? I was!

I’ve been a huge fan of Frank Ape since I first came upon him on our streets several years ago.  Just who is he?

Frank is a fun-loving Sasquatch who lives in NYC among us humans.  Always caring and positive, he is an ape that often takes the form of a cartoon.

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When and where was he born?

He was born in NYC in 2010 shortly after I moved here. He evolved from a mix of various mythological creatures, pop-icons and original characters that I’d used in my earlier artwork.

Can you tell us about the relationship between you, Brandon Sines, the artist and the lovable Frank Ape — whom we’ve come to associate with you?

I identify with Frank Ape on a highly personal level. He gives me an opportunity to be invisible — while, at the same time, present — in his work.

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What can visitors to tonight’s opening expect to experience? 

From 6-10pm, visitors can expect to be taken on a magical adventure in the multi-roomed gallery through the eye of Frank Ape. They will be able to interact with several site-specific exhibitions, view new large-scale Frank paintings, scoop limited edition collectibles at the pop-up gift shop and dance through the night to some of Frank’s favorite songs. And they will have the opportunity to meet the real life Frank!

It all sounds great! What’s ahead?

On August 10th, a new exhibit at Contra Galleries will feature my non-Frank paintings, along with a launch of my book Lips and Drips.

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Good luck with it all. It’s quite ambitious!

Photos courtesy Brandon Sines

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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Painted collaboratively by Queens-based Diego 127, FCEE and Whisper aka Chip Love, a fantastical alphabet mural has made its way onto a huge wall on 78th Street adjacent to the Garden School in Jackson Heights. While visiting the site as the mural was near completion, I spoke to classic graffiti writer, Diego 127, who had secured the space.

What an ideal spot for such a striking mural! 

Yes! I’d been eyeing this wall since I moved into this neighborhood in 2004.

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And how did you go about securing it for this mural?

I eventually connected with Dudley Stewart, an active member of the local community and the president of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. And he was able to get us the support that we needed to make this happen.

How did you come up with this concept — this amazing alphabet?

Lots of text messages between Chip and me! And we loved the idea of playing with the letters of the alphabet — as we so often do — on a big wall.

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Why did you choose to work with white, black and grey? I love the effect. The impact of this mural is tremendous.

As an illustrator, I often work in black and white. And Chip, in particular, loves black and white.

Did you guys work from an initial sketch or did it all happen on site?

We had developed a loose plan. But the mural, itself, evolved organically. We free-styled, continually revising it and adding to it.

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How long have you guys been working on this mural?

We started in May; so it’s been two months.

How have the kids responded to it?

They love it and they’ve loved watching the process.

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Congratulations on this! I’m so glad I got to see it!  What a fantastical alphabet!

Interview with Diego 127 by Lois Stavsky; all photos by Lois Stavsky; photo #1 features FCEE; seated in final photo are: Whisper aka Chip LoveFCEE & Diego 127.

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 discovered David Hollier‘s distinctly provocative aesthetic a few years back when I came upon his huge murals of such luminaries as Nelson Mandela and John F Kennedy on the streets of Brooklyn.  Earlier this year, I saw his intriguing work on the 69th floor of the World Trade Center. And, yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit his solo exhibit, Ladies and Gentlemen, at Sideshow Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and pose a few questions to him.

When did you first start integrating text into your artwork?

I began in 2010.

What inspired you to do so?

Before incorporating text into my artwork, I was working with lines. I then started repeating words within the works. And when a friend commissioned me to create a portrait of her husband using words, I incorporated a brief biography into the portrait. The response was so positive that I continued working in this style. By 2012 I’d given the collection the name Imago Verbosa, meaning a picture made of words in Latin.

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What media or tools do you use in fashioning these portraits?

I sometimes use a vintage typewriter. I also use acrylic paint. Huge photographic images are often projected and copied onto a range of surfaces.

How do you choose the subjects of your work? Ranging from Susan B. Anthony to Jay Z, they cross generations, nationalities and sensibilities. Among them are many musicians and politicians. 

Yes! I generally select icons. But some are commissioned, and those are selected for me.

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We’ve come upon quite a few of your works on the streets of Brooklyn. Do you prefer working in your studio or working on the streets?

They’re different experiences, and I like both. But the streets can be more challenging.

Do you have a formal art education?

Yes. I studied Visual Art and Public Art at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, and I earned a Masters degree in Computer Imaging and Animation from London Guildhall University.

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I’m fascinated by your choice of text infused into each portrait, as many have strong social implications. This exhibit is quite impressive. Do you devote yourself full-time to your artwork?

I divide my time between painting and teaching. I’ve taught at Parsons since 2006.

Congratulations on this! And we especially look forward to seeing more of your public artworks on the streets of NYC.

Note: A CLOSING RECEPTION takes place, tonight, Friday from 6 until 9pm. The show ends of Sunday, July 16th. Sideshow Gallery is located at 319 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Images

1 Taylor Swift, Text: “Never Grow Up,” Acrylic on board, 48″ x 48″

2 Jimi Hendrix, Text: “Fire,” “Voodoo Child” and “Are you Experienced?” Acrylic on canvas, 60″ x 60″

3 Star Stuff, Text: from Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos,” Acrylic on canvas, 72″ x 60″

4 The artist with Susan B. Anthony, Text: from “Women’s Rights to the Suffrage,” Acrylic on board, 27″ x 40″

Photos by Lois Stavsky; interview by Lois Stavsky with Bonnie Astor

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I first encountered Vanessa Rosa’s mesmerizing aesthetic several months back in Lisbon, Portugal.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to then meet up with the wonderfully talented Brazilian visual artist and art historian here in New York City. 

When and where did you first hit up a public space?

Back in 2009 in a favela in Rio.

What inspired you at the time?

I’d always been interested in street art. I love the way it is accessible to everyone – not just to people who visit museums.  Most of my schoolmates back in Rio had never entered a museum or a gallery. But they were very ecxited to see the rise of street painting in Rio.

Have you any preferred surfaces?

I like adapting to different spaces. I’ve painted on a variety of surfaces from doors to boats.

Do you tend to paint alone or collaborate with other artists?

I almost always paint alone; I’m not much into groups. But I’m open to working with others. Collaborating allows us to learn from one another.

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What was the riskiest thing you’ve done?

Painting in precarious places – places without staircases, or just terribly bad improvised ladders.

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

It used to be largely blurred in Rio, but that’s changing now. It’s very important to respect tagging. However, when we’re working with a community that does not like tagging, confusions and conflicts can arise. Confusion also arises between street artists and graffiti writers when we don’t know who really owns a particular wall — legally or symbolically.

Do you have a formal art education?

I studied Art in Rio, did an exchange in Paris and had the opportunity to take classes through fellowships in programs in NYC, as well.

Has your formal education been worthwhile?

I feel that it has positively affected the way I deal with colors, history and concepts.

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What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Everything I do is connected to art, including the academic research and publishing business that I do.

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

I’m most comfortable working with NGO’s. I will only collaborate with a corporate entity that adapts to my beliefs.

Have you shown your work in galleries?

I’ve exhibited in Brazil, Berlin, Paris, Basel and NYC. Now it’s changing, but many of the exhibits I’ve done were in very alternative places, like buildings occupied by artists or who knows what!

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

It varies; often I don’t work from a sketch. Or I start with a sketch and then it becomes something else.

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Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

I usually am. But sometimes it takes me awhile. When I just finish it, often I think it should be better. But then I realize it’s fine; it’s just different from what I had in mind. I’m often megalomaniac and I want to do too much — like too complicated, too many details, even bigger, more conceptually innovative from the previous works, or who knows what! At some point I end up accepting my limitations.

How has your work evolved through the years?

As I get deeper and deeper into research, my work continues to evolve reflecting a multiplicity of cultures. Personally, I’m the result of a very mixed cultural background, and my love for history and travel makes me always want to expand my worldview. Curiosity is essential, curiosity and affection, being interested in things and wanting to learn with them is a way of loving life.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Portuguese, Islamic, West African and Central European.

What inspires your work these days?

Transcultural exchange throughout history. What I’m studying now is a mix of Art History, History of Science and Post Colonialist Theory.

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

It is essential to the phenomenon of public art. The Internet is essentially a public space. And it definitely makes it much easier to travel around and know people.

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

I feel that the artist has an ethical responsibility to help others become more humane. Or just to show people how interesting the world is. Or how it could be.

Note: Vanessa Rosa has begun a new huge work at the entrance of Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer Street, in Red Hook, Brooklyn

Images:

1-3 Imaginary Tiles Project, Brooklyn Brush, Bushwick, 2017

Blue Wall Project, close-up, Lisbon, 2015 

Rio de Janeiro, 2016 

Photos: 1-4, Lois Stavsky; 5 courtesy of the artist

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