Sonni

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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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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:

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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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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This is the tenth in an occasional series of posts featuring the range of faces have surfaced in NYC public spaces:

Chilean artist Otto Schade with JMZ Walls in Bushwick, Brooklyn

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Luis Rosenfeld in Bushwick, Brooklyn

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Brown Boyz — Don Rimx, Ricardo Cabret, LNY, Alex Seel and Mata Ruda — in Bushwick, Brooklyn

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Dasic with the Bushwick Collective on Manhattan’s Lower East Side

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Sonni in Bushwick, Brooklyn

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Mast and Logik with the Welling Court Mural Project in Astoria, Queens

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Beau Stanton with the L.I.S.A Project on Manhattan’s Lower East Side

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Chris Soria, lead artist, with DonChristian Jones and Groundswell youth in Brownsville, Brooklyn — since 2013

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Note: Our highly acclaimed Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Photo credits: 1, 2 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 3 – 5 Dani Reyes Mozeson; 7 & 8 Tara Murray

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In an eclectic range of visual styles and themes, music makes it way to NYC walls. Here  is a small sampling:

Zeso, close-up from huge mural in Bushwick

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Andre Trenier, lead artist, in the Bronx

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 Kingbee, Pose2 and Chemis in East Harlem

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MeresSloneSee TFShiroIZK and more in Bushwick

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Close-up

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Manny Vega in East Harlem

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Sonni in Bushwick

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Mike Brown on the Lower East Side

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Unidentified artist in Bedford-Stuyvesant

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Photo credits: 1, 2, 5 – 9 Lois Stavsky; 3 Dani Reyes Mozeson; 4 Tara Murray

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An innovative line of hoodies with interchangeable, collectible art-inspired hoods provides a new canvas for artists, including some of NYC’s street artists. Curious about it all, we posed some questions to Amisha Patel, the founder and CEO of Le Collektor.

What inspired you to bring the art that we see on our city’s streets and galleries to hoodies?

The outcry and public debate around the whitewashing of 5Pointz reminded me of what street art is all about. It’s such a pure form of self-expression — truly democratic in nature. At its root is a desire to be seen and heard. And while I think it’s great for artists that street art has been recognized by traditional art collectors and galleries, we wanted to find a way to bring its democratic spirit to its original fans – people on the streets. The hoodie – a streetwear classic – seemed a great way to do it.

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Sonni-art-hoodie copy

How did you select the particular artists who are participating in this venture?

We approached it as if we were curating a group show that artists would want to attend. We wanted to showcase distinct styles that could be seen in cities around the world. We also wanted to work with artists who were  on board with what we’re trying to do. Our inaugural artists – Nick Gazin, Chris Uphues, Sonni, Dru Brennan, EWOK, David R. Head, Jr. and Joseph Meloy – have been amazingly supportive, and we very much appreciate that they trust a new brand with their work.

How have the artists responded to your mission? 

The artists love the idea. It gives them a direct way to connect to fans — especially those who aren’t in cities that have street art scenes. Everyone also really loves the way the hoodies turned out.

Which artists – based here in NYC – are you featuring?

Joseph Meloy, Nick Gazin, SonniChris Uphues and David R. Head, Jr

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How can artists join this project?

We’d love to grow our list of collaborators! Artists can email me directly at amisha@lecollektor.com

Can you tell us something about the hoodie itself? Who will be manufacturing it?

We wanted our hoodie to be the go-to so we made sure that it was worthy of the art on its hoods. It’s being made by a factory in Los Angeles that we found through our friends at Bleick Studio who work with some of the best streetwear brands out there:

  • Super soft 13 oz. brushed Sherpa fleece locally knitted in Los Angeles
  • Flat-locked seams for extra durability
  • Ribbed side panels for a close fit and extra warmth
  • Pre-washed and shrunk to fit
  • Classic ribbed bomber collar to wear jacket without a hood
  • Rope drawcords with custom metal tips
  • Hidden phone pocket with headphone port

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Why did you launch a Kickstarter? Can you tell us something about it?   

Big brands use artists’ work all the time, but we want to build our brand around the artwork in a way that it will provide artists with meaningful income directly from their fans.  Kickstarter seemed the perfect platform to engage directly with artists’ fans and with the creatively-minded community we want to build around Le Collektor. It’s about bringing big ideas to life, and — really more than any other company out there — it has created a new class of everyday patrons of the arts – which is in line with our company’s mission. So far, it’s been very exciting to see all of the support and love for what we’re doing. We’re a Kickstarter staff pick, and artists have written in from all over saying they’d love to be part of the movement.

Note: You can check out and support Le Collektor’s Kickstarter here.

Photo credits: 1. Sonni on Bushwick rooftop, Lois Stavsky; 2. Sonni in the East Village, Tara Murray; 3. Sonni hood, courtesy of Le Collecktor; 4. and 5. Chris Uphues in Williamsburg, Lois Stavsky; 6. Chris Uphues hood, courtesy of Le Collecktor; 7. Joseph Meloy at Welling Court, Dani Reyes Mozeson; 8. Joseph Meloy for the Centre-fuge Public Art Project, Tara Murray; 9. Joseph Meloy hood, courtesy of Le Collecktor

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With new murals outside and an array of artworks inside, Be Electric Studios on 1298 Willoughby Avenue is the site of a new exhibit featuring over 20 street muralists.  Here are a few images captured hours before it opened last night.

Chris & Veng RWK and Nicole Salgar & Chuck Berrett

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Nicholai Khan at work, FumeroRaquel EchaniqueChris & Veng RWK and Nicole Salgar & Chuck Berrett

 "street Murals"

Magda Love at work

"Magda Love"

Sonni

Sonni

Joseph Meloy

"Joseph Meloy"

Cernesto

Cernesto

And Esteban del Valle adding some finishing touches to his indoor mural

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Curated by Kevin Michael, the exhibit continues through Monday, 12 – 11pm.

Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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This is the sixth in an occasional series featuring images of males who surface on NYC public spaces:

Dasic at the Bushwick Collective

"Dasic Fernandez"

Connor Harrington for the LISA Project in Downtown Manhattan

"Conor Harrington"

Icy & Sot and Sonni for the Bushwick Collective

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Sexer for the Bushwick Collective

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Damien Mitchell at Welling Court in Astoria, Queens

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 Danielle Mastrion near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx

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Photos 1 and 6 by Lois Stavsky; 2-5 by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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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.

NewMerica-

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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The following guest post is by Yoav Litvin, a writer, photographer and author of the recently released Outdoor Gallery – New York City book on contemporary NYC graffiti/street art.

Newmerica

Ñewmerica is a collective of artists, which includes LNY, Icy and Sot, Mata Ruda, NDA and Sonni. Each well-known to street art enthusiasts in New York City and worldwide, they joined forces in “The Birth of a Nation,” currently on display at Exit Room in Bushwick. After a fantastic opening chocked full of performances, raffles and other fun surprises, I returned to Exit Room to re-examine the art.  The first piece one encounters is an installation piece constructed by the group —  “La Inmortal Deli,” a bodega stocked with hand-embellished bottles and cigarette boxes. Outside the bodega are pieces by each of the artists in the main hall of Exit Room.

Newmerica

It is very refreshing, Ñewmerica, to see a group of talented artists — each in their own right — form a collective. What are you trying to achieve with Ñewmerica?

Ñewmerica is a friendship and a platform for independence. When artists start out, they are free to create a body of work as they see fit, but then as the gallery system takes over, the work gets dissected and profiled to fit curatorial restraints or group show themes that tell their own stories. This can take away from an artist’s ability to present and represent his or her work. Ñewmerica is a collective push to take that complete artistic expression back by making the work we want to see exactly the way we want to see it. Ñewmerica is freedom.

Newmerica

Is there a collective experience for foreign artists trying to make it in NYC? Can you tell us something about the name, Ñewmerica?

None of us are native to NYC – our shared playground. NYC is the perfect stage for anybody to talk about anything resembling national identity, immigrant identity, or issues of gentrification and generational perspectives. Our individual work speaks about these issues already, and it gets amplified when we work together. At the same time this is just our reality. Even if we don’t make identity an issue we see it coming up in every day life. Analyzing identity is a way of discussing the reality of New York.

Bodega-foreclosure-at-Exir-Room

What’s wrong with America and what are you trying to change?

We are not necessarily trying to change anything, but just better ourselves through collaboration, sharing, and friendship. That’s the only way we can create a better commons and consequently better communities, neighborhoods, cities and nations. Know thyself before you wreck thyself and thy town.

"NDA and Icy & Sot"

The bodega – why did you choose a bodega as the collaborative point for the collective, and not some other nexus? Why did you choose to make art on alcohol bottles and cigarettes boxes?

The bodega is a contested battleground. Much like the subway, it unifies a city because all social strata melt into it. Commerce and necessity make the bodega a contemporary secular place of worship where we all get our alcohol, coffee, cigarettes and purchase dreams on lottery tickets. It is this quintessential NYC icon — that has played an important role forming our culture — that is slowly getting lost. The bodega icon has been the focus of a lot of scrutiny, a specific example for this is the Street Market installation by Barry McGee, Todd James and Stephen Powers at Deitch Projects back in 2000 — something we all looked at and talked about at the beginning of this production and in a way are paraphrasing as part of this longer dialogue in time.

"Mata Ruda and Icy and Sot"

Is there significance to the name, “La Inmortal Deli?”

“La Inmortal Deli” is our nod to this history and our wish for this type of questioning to continue while simultaneously dealing with contemporary issues. Contrary to its name, “La Inmortal Deli” has an expiration date; it has been foreclosed and will soon be replaced by a Bank of America. So where will our culture go? What will replace the bodega in this new city we are building? What can we do about it?

Newmerica

Please tell us some of Ñewmerica‘s plans for the future.

Ñewmerica has lots of fun and secret events planned for the future months – check back with us to find out @nwmrca and on our Facebook page.

"Sonni and LNY"

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 “The Ñewmerican Dream is our biggest success to date,” commented Exit Room founder Dariel MTZ and co-founder Daniela Croci aka Zoe. “This group of artists represents the perfect balance between a grittier street art style and fine art, highlighting diversity in style, ethnic influences and a critical, yet progressive, new vision for American society.”

“The Birth of a Nation” continues through April 19 at 270 Meserole Street.  Gallery hours are Wednesday – Sunday: 5 – 8pm

All photos by Yoav Litvin; photos 1-4. Bodega installation; 5. NDA and Icy & Sot; 6. Mata Ruda and Icy & Sot; 7. Ñewmerica — all members, and 8. LNY and Sonni

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