NYC

Teeming with color and charm, the huge wall at City-As-School on Hudson Street between Clarkson and West Houston in the West Village has been the talk of the town. I had the opportunity to visit it while it was still in progress and speak to CAS educator Maria Krajewski, who’s been devotedly involved with this project since it first began.

When did this impressive project begin?

Magda Love actually started her mural in May, 2016. But due to permitting issues, the painting had to be stopped four days after it had begun. We were told that we needed formal approval not only from the Department of Education, but, also, from the Department of Environmental Protection.  About 25 people in the DOE and DEP had to approve the process. We had to work out insurance, liability, releases… That took about a year. We were so grateful to get the permit!

What is happening here is described as a project of the Mad Academy that you had co-founded. Just what is the Mad Academy?

It is a pre-professional training initiative that was developed as a collaboration among students, teachers and mentors. Its goal is to provide CAS students direct training in design, arts and music under the guidance of NYC’s top creative industry professionals.

I know that Magda Love has been involved with City-as-School now for several years. I remember the first mural that she had painted here. But how did you engage the Brazilian muralist Eduardo Kobra? His popular appeal is enormous!

Eduardo Kobra’s team actually approached us, as it was a great opportunity for him to paint on such a huge wall adjacent to a school building and to engage with students.

Working on a project this enormous must have posed many challenges. What were some of the main ones?

The enormous bureaucracy that confronted us in obtaining the necessary permissions to seeing it through was our greatest challenge. And funding, of course was another huge challenge. Once we got the permit, we didn’t have any money! When Lisi Gehrend joined the team to fundraise as part of her Master’s Degree in Art, Law and Business at Christie’s Education, the largest mural in NYC was finally underway

You’ve had quite a team. And how has the response been — from students and the community?

It’s been amazing. The community loves it, as do the students. They are, in fact, painting their own murals now on our building.

Congratulations! It is amazing! And it’s so wonderful how it all came together.

Images:

1 & 2 Magda Love

3 Al Diaz

4 Eduardo Kobra & team

5 City-As-School  students Charlie Federico & Kaira Wong

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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The following guest post is by Houda Lazrak

This past Saturday, The Point’s Riverside Campus for Arts and the Environment in the South Bronx was the site of the Ngozy Art Collective‘s second live painting event. Curated by Sade TCM, the joyous afternoon featured over a dozen female graffiti writers and muralists painting away.

The legendary Lady Pink

The classic Bronx-based graffiti writer Erotica 67 Fly ID

 Shiro

Gia and Anjl

Steph Burr

And some more action — with Zera to the right of Shiro

Also featured was an art gallery photography exhibition by Gloria Zapata that continues through Saturday, November 17. Here is one of Gloria’s photos featuring her original work:

Photos 1-7 by Houda Lazrak; final photo Gloria Zapata

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Self-described as a “NYC-based visually impaired Street-Pop artist with a vintage flair,” the lovely OG Millie primarily fashions infectious portraits of iconic international figures. Ranging from the Buddha to Biggie, they are customarily painted with brilliant hues onto vintage decorative mirrors, exuding a distinctly enchanting aura.

A wonderfully diverse sampling of the artist’s portraits were exhibited this past Wednesday at a reception held at Long Island City’s magical Paper Factory Hotel, celebrating the Queens launch of LG USA Mobile‘s impressive, new five-camera LGV40 ThinQ. Pictured above is OG Millie‘s rendition of the Buddha. Several more images follow:

The famed Brooklyn-based rapper Biggie Smalls

The legendary American rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix

The German-born brilliant physicist Albert Einstein

And all eyes upon her  — or the phone capturing her! –as she intently begins to paint live

Note: You can see the final piece painted live by OG Millie here.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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If you haven’t yet had your portrait drawn with one line in under one minute by the wonderfully passionate, nomadic Brooklyn-based 0H10 M1ke, tomorrow is your chance. From 6 – 10pm, Mike promises to do that and lots more at 198 Allen Street. Last week, we met up and caught up a bit.

When we last spoke in 2014, you said that your goal was to create 100,000 one-line matchbox portraits? Mine was 11,206! How close are you to your goal?

My most recent was #13,021! I’ve done quite a few at 17 Frost, at 198 Allen, on the trains, on the streets — anywhere I can!

How do you approach folks? And how do they respond?

I simply say, “Give me a New York moment; I’ll draw your portrait in one line on a matchbox in one minute.” They generally respond with skepticism. But once they see the portrait I’ve created, they like it.

In addition to your ongoing matchbox project, what other projects have engaged you as of late?

I’ve been preparing for my upcoming solo show and performance If Basquiat and Keith Haring had a baby…reimagining the works of Basquiat and Haring in one-line drawings. I’ve, also, been working on creating sculptures inspired by Warhol; instead of using Brillo boxes, I use Nike boxes. And I’ve been staging wrestling as dance, which will be projected –along with large portraits — onto a huge screen outside 198 Allen.

What inspires you to keep creating?

I’m compulsive. I have to. And people, the street art community in particular, have been welcoming and supportive.

Are there any particular artists out there who continue to influenc your aesthetic?

Obviously Haring and Basquiat. But other main influences include UFO and Neckface.

Anything else new — in terms of your art-making?

I’ve been getting my original drawings into hand-made books. I recently constructed a 3o-pocket rotating magazine rack, and I’ve filled it with all hand-made original artbooks and magazines. I also create on a larger variety of surfaces.

What’s ahead?

Murals, prints and reproducibles.

Good luck with it all!

Note: You can keep up with 0H10 M1ke here — now that he’s posting on Instagram!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; all images courtesy of the artist

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Since September 26, 57 Great Jones Street — the former home and studio of Al Diaz collaborator, Jean-Michel Basquiat — has been the site of Same Old Gallery, a multimedia exhibit showcasing Al Diaz ‘s masterful wordplay and inventive aesthetic. Curated by Adrian Wilson and Brian Shevlin, it features a diverse array of new work by Al Diaz, in addition to historic photos and memorabilia from back in the day when the SAMO© tag that he and Jean-Michel Basquiat had conceived was the talk of the town. Several photos I captured while visiting the space follow:

Mixed media with stencil art

Another contemplation on the brevity of it all

Mixed media musings

With a message for these times

The 1978 Village Voice article that reveals SAMO©’s identity

And this weekend marks the launch of Al Diaz‘s book with a signing and talk

Photos 1-6: Lois Stavsky

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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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A master of style and ingenuity, the wonderfully talented and resourceful Sade TCM has been making his mark in the writing culture and beyond for over three decades. Recently, we had the opportunity to visit and interview the Mount Vernon-based modern legend.

When did you first get up?

I was in 7th grade when I hit the doors of Clark Junior High School in the South Bronx. I was hanging out in school with Rush M.P.C. who was tagging at the time with fat black markers. He suggested I try it. I did!

What inspired you to keep at it?

Graffiti was all around me. On ceilings. In hallways. Daze and Crash were doing gates that I passed every day while walking around my neighborhood.

And what about trains? When did you first hit the trains?

I was in 10th grade. It was the winter of 1982.

Have you any early graffiti-related memories that stand out?

There are many, but the one that stands out is the day I arrived. The previous evening, I was over at the Esplanade lay-up in the Bronx at the Morris Park/Esplanade stop. I had written SADEISM across three quarters of a  blue and silver car — a beige interior, cherry red outline, sky blue flame cloud with a regal blue outline and white highlights. The next day — as I was sitting on the Writers Bench at 149th Street and the Grand Concourse, along with Dez, G-man PGA, Sob and Cose — the train rolled by and and stopped directly in front of us. What a thrill that was! I knew then that I had arrived!

Did you generally hit the trains alone? 

I was often with my partner, Dune.

What was the riskiest thing you had done back in the day? And why were you willing to take those risks?

Running around in subways tunnels with live third rails and riding on tops of trains when they’re moving –- train surfing — were all risky. Why did I take those risks?  Youthful ignorance of consequences.

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

They mostly didn’t know about it. But my mother definitely didn’t like it. She thought it was stupid, and she warned me that if I got arrested, she wouldn’t be coming to pick me up.

Would you rather paint legally or illegally?

Back then, it was all illegal. But these days I’d rather paint legally. I like the leisure of legal.

You are a master of styles — over 1,000, in fact!. Is there anyone in particular with whom you’d like to paint with or battle?

Yes! I’d like to paint with Baby 168. And I’d like to battle Skeme, because he called me a toy!

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

It’s a natural evolution. It legitimizes the value of the art. I’ve shown at Wall Works, at More Points and at the galleries of Westchester Community College and SUNY/Purchase University.

What is the main source of your income?

It has always been related to art. After I graduated from high school, I started my own business painting murals. But then after I was involved in a serious accident in 2000, I  switched to graphic design.

Have you a formal art education?

I earned an associates degree in visual arts from Westchester Community College and a BFA from SUNY/Purchase University. But when it came to graffiti, my primary educators were those writers I admired. I’d watch their work on lines as I was coming up.

Was your formal education worthwhile?

Carla Rae Johnson challenged me to use a pencil when I was a student at Westchester Community College. And at Purchase, I learned the most from my anthropology teacher regarding understanding cultures. A formal education did open my mind to broader possibilities.

Do you work with a sketch-in-hand? Or do you just let it flow?

95% of the time I work from a sketch.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Am I satisfied with it? Yes! Am I happy with it? No!

What is your ideal work environment?

My living room and my courtyard, here in Mount Vernon.

What inspires you these days? I’m a visual junkie. Sometimes sculpture. It could be anything! I draw every single day, and I always attempt to do something I haven’t done before.

How has your art evolved through the years?

It’s evolved in both subject matter and technique. I now draw beyond graffiti letters, and draw with pencils, crayons, and charcoal brushes.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Edgar Degas, I like the way he captured light…Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Frazetta. Among graffiti writers: Crash, Daze, Baby 168, Dondi, Tac, Spade, Dez, Part and Kel.

What are some of your other interests?

Writing and cooking. I used to be into motorcycle drag racing.

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

I feel that the divide exists because of titles. Graffiti writers and street artists can inspire one another. An evolution took place. Many of the early street artists like Keith Haring, Hektad, A. Charles and Richard Hambleton bombed the streets in the spirit of graffiti. Problems arise when street artists scoff at graffiti. Graffiti has not yet gotten the legitimacy it deserves.

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

It’s a double-edged sword. It’s great for gaining more documentation, knowledge  and exposure. But as the evolution of styles continues to grow at an alarming rate, the Internet has also ushered in an age of mediocrity.

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

A documentarian of the imagination, and the imagination is unlimited.

You recently curated an amazing event in the South Bronx celebrating the launch of the art collective, Ngozy. You were its principal founder.  What prompted you to launch it?

As an artist growing up in NYC, I know firsthand the struggles that artists face — particularly graffiti artists. Our culture is not given the value — nor the serious documentation — that it merits. We know that we have to start somewhere, and collectively we are stronger. Conversations with Ngozy partners John”Crash” Matos and Robert Kantor led to the birth of Ngozy

What is Ngozy‘s mission?

Among its many missions is to reach and educate the broad community about our culture.  We aim to facilitate the artists’ ability to sell and promote their art, as we make the art experience financially accessible to a wide public.

How can folks find out what artworks are available through Ngozy?

They can visit our site or download our free app for iOS or Android.

And what about artists? How can they become involved?

Anyone can register, set up an account, and submit work on the site or on the app. Blog posts and notices of events are also welcome!

I’ve recently registered, and it looks wonderful! I was delighted to discover the works of some of my favorite artists on the Ngozy site. What are some of the challenges you face in promoting the Ngozy collective?

The legitimacy of our art form remains a challenge. We need to shift the understanding of our culture on all levels. Getting exposure is essential, so that we can introduce Ngozy to new people. And we need sponsorship to accomplish our goals.

What’s ahead for Ngozy?

We are working on an all female live-painting event for October 27th, and we are currently seeking sponsorship. Among the many artists scheduled to participate are: Lady Pink, Shiro, Erotica and Steph Burr. Specific details and information will soon follow.

Note: Sade can be contacted at gfantauzzi22@gmail.com.

Interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray and edited by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtesy of Sade.

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Shoot the Pump, a wonderfully engaging exhibit featuring an eclectic mix of works in a range of media by two dozen NYC-based artists, continues through November 4 at Bullet Space, an urban artist collective at 292 East 3rd Street. Curated by Lee Quiñones, Alexandra Rojas and Andrew Castrucci, it is largely a pean to the ubiquitous fire hydrant and its massive significance to the lives and minds of NYC kids. Pictured above is Pink Pump fashioned with acrylic on canvas by the legendary Lady Pink. Several more images follow:

Barry Hazard, Water Main, Acrylic on wood, 2018

Martin Wong, I Really Like the Way Firemen Smell, Acrylic on canvas, c. 1988

John Ahearn, Point Guard Renzo, Acrylic on reinforced plaster, 2018

Bobby G, Superzentrierte, Oil and aluminum paint on canvas, 1983

Alexandra Rojas in collaboration with John Ahearn, Installation; Hydrant water on oil shellac and reinforced plaster, 2018

Lee Quiñones, Trepidation, Metal cans, wood, 2018

Bullet Space is open Saturday and Sunday from 1 – 6pm or by appointment — 347.277.9841. Check here for a full list of the artists on exhibit. Most of the artists, explains co-curator Alexandra Rojas, have strong roots on the Lower East Side, as Bullet Space continues to keep its culture alive amidst the rapid changes in the neighborhood. Lee Quiñones, in fact, lived in the building where Bullet Space is housed.

Photos of artworks 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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Intent on empowering women and raising awareness on social justice, diversity and gender equality, Daniela ZOE Croci has been busy!  I recently had the opportunity to catch up with her and find out a bit more about Women to the Front, a project she has launched.– its  mission and its needs.

Can you tell us something about Women to the Front? You were its principal founder. What spurred you to launch it?  What is its mission?

Its mission is to equalize the gender balance in the arts. During the years that I was active at Exit Room — curating exhibits, arranging performances, organizing presentations and reaching out to the media — I felt that most of the males I came in contact with were dismissive of me. They largely avoided me, and I sensed that they did not take me seriously. In addition, about 80% of the artists who exhibited were male. It was time for a change!

Women to the Front was founded to provide opportunities for women to get together, inspire one another and to collaborate. At our events, you can expect to meet deejays, filmmakers, visual artists, performers and vendors – all females. Panel discussions on a range of relevant topics also take place. We are all about diversity and inclusion. Our mission is to inspire women to just “do it!”

When did Women to the Front hold its first event? 

Its premier event was held at Superchief Gallery here in Brooklyn in November, 2017. I’ve since partnered with Terry Lovette, a singer, performer, dancer and graphic designer. And we are now working on Women to the Front‘s third edition.

How do you decide which women to showcase in your events?

Diversity is essential. The majority of women we showcase are women of color, Latinas and Natives. I reach out to females who create meaningful art, often in relation to trauma and patriarchy. Essential, too, is the individual’s engagement with issues of social justice.

How do you go about finding these women?

Since I moved here. I’ve developed strong connections with many diverse communities through my involvement with hip-hop and dance.

What are some of the challenges you face in seeing your mission through?

One of the biggest challenges is getting folks to know about us. So much is going on, and the amount of information we receive via social media can be overwhelming. Raising funds is another huge challenge. We need money to pay artists, performers, panel discussion participants and more. We would also need sponsorship to enable us to produce videos and publicize what we are doing. We’ve set up a Go Fund Me to help make this happen.

What’s ahead?

A huge event, our third edition of Women to the Front, will take place on Thursday, November 15th at Superchief Gallery. And on October 11th, and a small pre-event will be held at the New Women Space, a community organizing space near the Graham Avenue stop on the L train. We are also working on setting up a Women to the Front Instagram feed and a Facebook account.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photo credits: 1 Erika Dickstein, 2 & 3  Zack Nesmith and flyer image-painting Jasmin Charles

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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