Sonni Adrian

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This past weekend, the now-abandoned Essex Street Market at 140 Essex was the site of Market Surplus, an exhibit featuring ten huge striking murals in a range of styles — from meticulously rendered photorealistic to brightly colored expressionistic. Largely site-specific, they were the perfect homage to a soon-to-be-demolished historic Lower East Side building.  While visiting late Sunday afternoon, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to its curator, Adam Lucas aka Hanksy.

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This is quite impressive. When did you begin working on it?

It all started a week and a half ago.

That’s quite remarkable. It must have been quite an intense week and a half! What moved you to curate it? 

Essex Crossing has been committed from early on to bringing public art projects to this neighborhood. Awhile back, they tapped me to help them accomplish this. When they offered me this building as a site for this exhibit, I took the opportunity to curate Market Surplus.

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It seems like so much effort for a weekend event. It’s wonderful, but I wish it weren’t over so quickly!

Large murals like these generally have long lives.  But I actually like the twist on permanence. Bringing these kinds of murals indoors for this transitory exhibit turns the notion of permanence on its head.

How did you decide which artists to engage?

I reached out to artists I know and like — who were in town. And some of the artists recommended other artists.

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There are quite a few references to the neighborhood in these works.

Yes. Among them is NDA‘s painting of Luis and his son Felix of the Luis Meat Market that is housed at the Essex Street Market.  A key mission of the exhibit was capturing the spirit of the Lower East Side.

I love the variety of styles and sensibilities featured here. Each is distinctly wonderful!

My intention was to present a range of styles. That was one of my criteria in selecting artists.

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With Market Surplus behind you and now part of the history of the Lower East Side, what is next?

In two weeks, my work will be featured in a pop-up show at the Krause Gallery here on the Lower East Side. Later in the summer I will be painting a mural for the L.I.S.A Project. And there is much more to come!

It sounds great! And congratulations on this weekend’s exhibit.

Images

1. NDA

2. Adam Lucas aka Hanksy

3. Sonni

4. Faust

5. BK Foxx

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 4 Karin du Maire; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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Currently on view at Chelsea’s Porchlight is New York State of Mind, a group show featuring a diverse range of artworks by eight of our all-time favorite artists. While visiting the space earlier this summer, I spoke to its curator, Joshua B. Geyer.

LNY-Porchlight

This space is lovely, and the artworks are beautifully displayed.  How did you connect to such an ideal space?

My buddy, Michael Shain, is the general manager. We’d first met when we were students at the University of Hartford.  And after Michael saw my exhibit at the  World Trace Gallery, he invited me to curate a show here.

Can you tell us something about the title of the show – New York State of Mind?

Yes. All eight of the artists on exhibit have been active on the streets of NYC and have created artworks on a range of media while living in NYC.  And with the exception of Hellbent, all were born outside of the US. This is why there is such a diversity of styles.

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Every one of these artists has exhibited in a traditional gallery setting. How did they respond to your invite to show in an alternative setting such as this one?

They were all open to it. Here they can reach people who may not regularly visit galleries. And on our opening night we sold two pieces.

Yes, a reception was held here earlier this summer. How did that go?

It was great! All of the artists who were in town came, and I was told that it was the venue’s busiest evening.

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Did this exhibit present any particular challenges to you?

The biggest challenge was getting the word out about the exhibit. And then, of course, letting people know that the art is actually for sale!

How can folks see the exhibit?

Porchlight is open Monday through Wednesday from 12 pm until 12 am; from 12 pm until 2 am on Thursday and Friday, and on Saturdays from 4pm to 2am. It is located at 271 11th Avenue at the corner of 28th Street. The exhibit continues through the fall.

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 Images

1. Luna New Year, Ccollanan Pachacamac

2. Sonni, Rise and Grind

3. Icy and Sot, Hunger

Note: Final image with list of artists features Lady Aiko

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Lois Stavsky; 3 Tara Murray; interview by Lois Stavsky

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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"Sonni in Seoul, Korea"

Brooklyn-based Argentinian artist Sonni Adrian has been delighting us New Yorkers with his brightly hued, delightfully playful aesthetic for the past two years. He recently had the opportunity to share his vision with the folks in Seoul, Korea. 

What took you to Seoul?

While attending a conference at Parsons last year, I met a young woman who was establishing a new gallery, Everyday Mooonday, in Seoul. When she saw my artwork, she thought I’d be a great fit for the gallery. She, immediately, invited me to exhibit there and to paint on the streets of Seoul. I was thrilled that the opportunity came my way.

What was the experience like 

It was wonderful. I loved everything about Seoul – its kind people, its fantastic food and the enthusiastic response I got to my artwork.

"Sonni in Seoul"

Can you tell us something about that?

My exhibit was super successful. And I had over three weeks to paint in public spaces. I am already looking forward to returning next year.

Was it difficult to find walls?

No. The government made them available to me. This was arranged through the gallery.

Sonni

Was there much of a language barrier between you and the folks in Seoul?

Most of the younger people speak English. And folks who don’t speak English often responded to my artwork with friendly smiles!

Since your return to NYC, you’ve exhibited with the new collective, Ñewmerica over at Exit Room NY and at Outdoor Gallery NYC over at 17 Frost.  Can you tell us something about that?

It’s basically a group of friends who love to work together. It includes LNY, Icy and Sot, Mata RudaNDA and me. We feed off each other’s energy and inspire one another. We have a show coming up in June over at MECKA Gallery here in Bushwick.

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That sounds great? Anything else coming up?

Right now I’m finishing up my first collaborative mural with Cruz here on Waterbury Street. I will be showing in a group exhibit up in Boston at Liquid Art House, a new space opening on May 6. I will be painting soon in Mexico and I am planning to return to Seoul in 2015.

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It all sounds wonderful. Good luck!

Sonni interviewed by Lois Stavsky;  first three photos courtesy of the artist; photo from Ñewmerica mural at 17 Frost by Lois Stavsky

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Speaking with Sonni

May 24, 2013

Argentinian artist Sonni Adrian has been delighting us New Yorkers with his bold colors and playful themes since he moved here in 2011.  We recently had the opportunity to visit his studio and speak to him.

Sonni

When did you first begin creating art? 

When I was about seven years old, my parents enrolled me in an afterschool art program. I loved it, and I spent hours there every day.

What about getting your artwork up in public spaces? When did that first happen? And where?

I started getting up about eight years ago in Buenos Aires. I began first with stickers, and then I moved on to paste-ups and wheatpastes.

What was your subject matter back then – when you first began?

It was mostly back and white icons of playful inanimate characters.

Sonni

What inspired you to get up on the streets?

I was bored at my day job – where I spent all my time creating artwork for commercial purposes.

Have you any preferred spots or surfaces?

As I paint with acrylic, I prefer flat surfaces, rather than walls with bricks. But I love integrating windows into my pieces and I like interesting textures.

How do your parents feel about what you are doing?

At first they didn’t understand it.  But now they appreciate it.

Sonni

What percentage of your time is devoted to art these days?

Just about all of it!

What is the main source of your income as an artist?

I freelance as an art director for animation.

Have you a formal art education?

I studied graphic design for four years back in Argentina.

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Have you any favorite artists? Influences?

I love Matisse. Among my influences are: Yoshitomo Nara, Japanese Kawaii style, and Disney’s first Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat.

What about back in Argentina? Any favorite artists who paint in public spaces?

Tec, Chu, Ever, Kid Gaucho, Jaz, Gualicho, Parbo, Defi, BsAs Stencil, Pedro Perelman & run don’t walk are among my favorites.

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

I love it all. All art that is on the street is “street art.”

Sonni

How does the street art scene back in Buenos Aires compare to NYC’s?

There is much more freedom in Buenos Aires.  You won’t go to jail there for painting on the streets. The atmosphere, in general, is more open and relaxed.

When you paint, do you work with a sketch in hand or just let it flow?

I always work with a sketch. My sketchbooks are my reference.

Are you generally satisfied with your final piece?

Never! I always feel I can do more.

Sonni

You’ve had solo shows not only in Argentina, but in Miami and in NYC, and you’ve participated in group shows across the globe.  Any thoughts about the move of street art into galleries?

It’s amazing!  And a completely different experience. It’s quite a transition for any artist who is accustomed to painting on the streets.

What’s ahead?

I try not to think too much about that. But I know that I want to continue painting. I’m happiest when I’m painting, and I have quite a few exciting projects coming up. My long-term goal is to be able to do my own thing full time. And I would love to design a playground for children.

That sounds great! We’re certainly looking forward to that!

Sonni-and-aaron-stewart

You can check out Sonni’s artwork tomorrow evening — as reMADE presents Sonni, Aaron Stewart, and Nile the Crocodile starting at 6pm at 469 DeKalb Ave.

Photos by Lenny Collado, Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky

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