Outsider Art

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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michael-cuomo-recycled-art-masks-Yonkers-waterfront

Working with a motley range of discarded objects, Yonkers-based interdisciplinary artist Michael Cuomo repurposes them into masks that he calls Heads of State. Exhibited in both outdoor and indoor spaces, his unique sculpture assemblages provoke and entertain. This past week, some of his newest smaller masks made their way onto the Yonkers Waterfront.

Pigskin

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Rex

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Installation in Progress

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A master of neo-primitive folk art in all media, Michael Cuomo recently released a coloring book with his original soulfakes drawings. You can purchase it here.

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Photos by Richie DiFrisco

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Recognized for his folksy outsider aesthetic, Brooklyn native Steven Cogle has shared his talents on public spaces for the past few years at the Welling Court Mural Project.  I recently met up with him.

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When did you first begin drawing?

I was five or six when I started drawing cartoons.

Any inspirations back then?

I was a big fan of Charles Schultz.’s Peanuts comic strip, and I also loved Bugs Bunny.

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Did your family have any response to your early drawings? Did they encourage you?

Not really! But my classmates did. I was always drawing characters for them.

What about your teachers?

I took an art class when I was a student at George Gershwin Junior High School in East New York.  I couldn’t say, though, that my teacher encouraged me.  But when I discovered Lee J. Ames’ How to Draw books in the library, I used them to teach myself how to draw.

Did you go on to study art in a formal setting?

No. I’m self-taught.

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How would you describe your particular aesthetic? It’s been referred to as Neo-Expressionism.

My artwork reflects me – tribal Africa crossed with urban blight. Growing up in East New York, I witnessed a lot of tragedy and loss, along with hope and survival. As I layer the painting on the canvas, I am also layering the experiences that I saw.

Have any specific artists influenced you?

Eric Orr became a mentor to me, and explained the business side of art to me.  And I was influenced by Picasso’s versatility, Basquiat’s palette and Clemente’s spirituality. 

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What about galleries? When did you first show your work in a gallery setting?

In 2004 my work made its way into two Brooklyn spaces and into an exhibit at the Chelsea Center for the Arts in Manhattan. I’ve since exhibited in several galleries in Brooklyn and in Manhattan, and my work is in collections across the globe. My dream is to see my work in a museum setting.

I first discovered your artwork in Astoria, Queens, where you painted with the Welling Court Mural Project. This year, in fact, you collaborated with Al Diaz.  You don’t generally paint in public spaces. What brought you to Welling Court?

I’m fond of Garrison Buxton, the project’s organizer, and I love the make-up of the neighborhood. I’ve painted there for the past four years.

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Have you any favorite artists among those active on our streets?

I like the way Chris RWK and Joe Iurato bring me back to my childhood. And there are several Staten-Island based artists I especially like: ErinKelli, John Exit and Kwue Molly.

What’s ahead? 

I’ve been working on a film to be released in 2017. It tells my story, while showcasing a range of creative artists. I plan to move to Italy by the end of this summer, and I wanted to document my life here. And, of course, more painting is ahead.

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Why the move? 

It’s time for a change!

Yes, change is good! Good luck with it all! 

Photo credits: 1 Lidia Santana; 3, 4-6 courtesy of the artist; 2 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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On view through tomorrow at 548 West 28th Street is Urban Reference, an engaging exhibit of works in a variety of media by Lorenzo Masnah, Alex Seel and Guillermo Perez.  When I visited earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak to Lorenzo.

Just what is going on here?

When an opportunity to exhibit art in this space came our way, we decided to launch a show on the theme of urban life. It is what we know best!

There seem to be a few different motifs going on here.

Yes! Alex‘s photos were shot in Colombia’s capital city, Bogota. He spent several weeks there working on a documentary focusing on the city’s street life  Highlights include: live bombing by APC members, including Stinkfish; an interview with Bogota’s legendary MC, Manny from the underground rap group, Crack Family and advice from assorted characters who dwell on the streets of Bogota.

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And what about Guillermo Perez? I love his paintings.

Guillermo Perez was born in the Dominican Republic into a family of master painters. On exhibit are his small works referencing people he’s met in the urban sphere.

How did you all three meet?

A number of years back, we shared the same living space in Bushwick — before the neighborhood became so gentrified.

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You are continuing your series of dancers and musicians here, along with new works with a distinct urban flair and outsider sensibility.  What are your primary media?

I work with the “tools of the trade,” — Mean Streak markers and paints on a huge range of surfaces. And I find myself incorporating graffiti elements.

 How did you get the word out about the exhibit — on such short notice?

Largely through Instagram and Facebook. And, of course, we let all our close friends know.

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How can folks see the exhibit?

It will continue through tomorrow, Friday. We are on the third floor of 548 West 28th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues.

Note: Lorenzo can be contacted at thirdwolrdpirate@gmail.com to confirm a visit

 Images:

1.  Lorenzo Masnah

2.  Alex Seel

3.  Guillermo Perez

4.  Lorenzo Masnah, close-up

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 3 Dani Reyes Mozeson & 4 courtesy of  Lorenzo Masnah

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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We love the way discarded and found objects — or fragments of them – are transformed into public art.  Here’s a small sampling:

RAE BK in Manhattan

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Jim Power aka the Mosaic Man captured at work in the East Village

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Fragment from a pole fashioned by Jim Power

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Michael Cuomo in the Bronx

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Unidentified artist on the Lower East Side

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Photos: 1, 3-5 Lois Stavsky; 2 Dani Reyes Mozeson

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Huge fans of Michael Cuomo‘s street and subway interventions, we were delighted to visit his studio as he was getting ready for YOHO Artists Open Studio, in addition to a WallWorks NY pop-up show and a solo exhibit at Art Cafe in Brooklyn. Here’s a sampling of what we saw:

Lucky, fashioned from found objects

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Big Mouth, fashioned from found objects

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Self-Portrait

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The Tempest

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Untitled

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Note: Michael Cuomo’s studio is located at 578 Nepperhan Ave., Suite 505; Wall Works NY’s pop-up show — featuring a wondrous array of artists including Nick Walker, Tats Cru and Crash — opens tonight and continues through the weekend at 28 Wells Street, 2nd floor. And Michael’s solo exhibit at Art Cafe opens May 6 from 6-9 at 886 Pacific Street in Brooklyn.

YoHo

Photo credits: 1, 3-5 Lois Stavsky; 2. City-As-School intern Diana Davidova; YoHo Open Studio graphic designed by John Wujcik

You can check out a detailed schedule of what’s happening this weekend in Yonkers — including live painting by Crash, Fumero and Damien Mitchell — here.

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RAE-This-May-Come-as-a-Shock

On exhibit through April 19 at 34 1/2 Bayard Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown, RAE’s brilliantly idiocyncratic Trunk Work celebrates the retrieval and contents of RAE‘s trunk from his former Brooklyn studio, while chronicling the events related to its loss and rescue. Graphically and conceptually engaging, Trunk Work wittily defines the mood and culture of the Brooklyn environs that housed RAE‘s trunk, as it showcases a range of RAE’s rescued and new works.

For four years, you couldn’t gain access to your trunk. What exactly was inside it?

Various artworks, notebooks, sketches, implements and a range of personal items.

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How did you lose access to it?

I had been maintaining a studio in a Flatlands, Brooklyn apartment building. But as a result of tenant complaints, I was forcibly removed. Barred from entering the building, I had no way to retrieve my trunk.

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What kinds of complaints might these tenants have had?

They didn’t like my taste in music; they complained that it was too loud. And the noise from my art practice bothered some. Finally, when a microwave I was using to melt some materials exploded, the landlord decided that he’d had enough of me.

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How did you finally retrieve your trunk?

This past August, cracks were discovered in the building’s facade and the entire building was evacuated. Amidst the chaos of it all, I was able to retrieve my trunk from what was once my studio.

We’re so glad you did! What a story! And what an amazing recreation of it all!

In true RAE fashion, Trunk Work is far more than an art exhibit; it is a totally immersive experience. Set in a Chinatown basement at 94 1/2 Bayard Street, right off Mulberry, it continues through April 19, Thursday-Sunday (except for Easter) from 1-6pm.

Photos 1-3 and 5 by Lois Stavsky; 4 by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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RAE BK in Africa

Brooklyn-based RAE — whose folksy sculptures, stickers, paste-ups and paintings on NYC streets always delight us — recently returned from Ethiopia.  And we had some questions for him:

What took you to Ethiopia?

I had connected with the non-profit organization H2 Empower Inc that had recently completed construction of the first community library in the town of Hosanna.

"RAE in Ethiopia"

What was your role there?

I worked with kids building sculptures out of found objects and painting the walls outside.

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Those of us who follow you on Instagram had the opportunity to witness an exhibit, as well – with goats in attendance!

Yes, we staged an exhibit in the living room of the home of a local family we met in town.

"RAE in Ethiopia"

How did it all culminate?

We successfully raised funds to furnish an empty, unused wing of the Alemu Woldehanna Community Library with tables, chairs and a computer station.  That financial goal has been met, and the furniture making will soon be in production.

" RAE street art in Ethiopia"

Who will be involved in the next step?

The students at the nearby School For The Deaf in Hosanna, Ethiopia will be making the furniture.

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It all sounds great! Welcome home!

Photos courtesy of the artist

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