stencil art

Opening Saturday evening at WallWorks New York is “Tough Love,”  Irish artist Solus‘s first solo exhibition in NYC. Featuring 15 new paintings and prints, along with resin sculptures, “Tough Love” is a testament to the artist’s universal appeal as he continues his works’ theme of “overcoming life’s obstacles, being victorious against all odds, “hope” and not going down without a fight.”

The following images were captured at Solus’s studio back in Ireland, as he was readying for the exhibit:

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A glimpse of the artist’s studio

Tough Love

And his now iconic “Dream Big”

Opening this coming Saturday evening 5-8pm at 39 Bruckner Blvd in the Bronx, the exhibition continues through May 16.

And to coincide with the opening of “Tough Love,” Solus will be creating a mural courtesy of The L.I.S.A Project in downtown New York City. Sponsorship for this exhibition is in collaboration with The L.I.S.A Project and Culture Ireland.

All photographs courtesy of the artist

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Presented by RexRomae Gallery and curated by Street Art News founder Rom Levy, Martin Whatson‘s solo exhibit Revive opened last Friday, September 29th, in Santa Monica. Featured in Revive are paintings, prints and sculptures representative of the Norwegian artist’s vibrant graphic imagery fashioned in juxtaposition to his greyscaled stenciled art and staid backgrounds. Pictured above is Whatson‘s recreation of  Salvador Dali’s Figure at the Window — forged with acrylic, spray paint and marker — that originally surfaced on the streets of Norway in 2015 during the Nuart Street Art Festival.  What follows are several more images of artworks on exhibit in Revive:

“Behind the Curtain” — which made an appearance in Miami in 2015 as a large scale mural

“Framed” — originally conceived in 2013  for the Sand, Sea and Spray Festival in Blackpool, UK. 

The artist’s famed butterfly as sculpture

Martin Whatson‘s iconic astronauts — with butterflies fluttering on their fingertips

The celebrated Martin Whatson with his brightly graffitied rhino

The exhibit continues through this weekend at 328 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Contents for this post provided by Luna George; photos by Angela Izzo

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vanessa-rosa-stencil-art-brooklyn-NYC

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.

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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Icy-and-Sot-flyer

The newly released LET HER BE FREE documents Iranian brothers Icy and Sot‘s foray from skateboarding teens in Iran to politically-conscious, internationally acclaimed artists. To celebrate the launch of their book, the artists invite you to a pop-up exhibition of small and mid-scale stencil artworks that have been created exclusively for this book launch. Opening tomorrow evening. July 23 at 51 Orchard Street with a book signing, the exhibit continues through July 30.

Unity, spray paint on canvas

icy-and-sot-Unity _ 30x36 inch _ stencil spray paint on canvas

Justice, spray paint on cut-out wood

Icy-and-Sot-Justice _ 30x24 inch _ stencil spray paint on cut out wood

In Long Island City 

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And book cover

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Published by Lebowsi Publishers with an introduction by filmmaker and poet Jess X Chen and an afterword by Brooklyn Street Art‘s Jaime Rojo and Steven P. Harrington, the artists’ first collection of works features over 200 full color photos.

All images courtesy Icy and Sot

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This is the tenth in a series of occasional posts featuring images of children that have surfaced on NYC public spaces.

BK Foxx with JMZ Walls in Bushwick, Brooklyn

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Joe Iurato and Logan Hicks at the Bushwick Collective

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Ernest Zacharevic — based on photo by Martha Cooper — in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

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Swoon in Red Hook, Brooklyn

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Long-running Cekis in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

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Rubin 415 and Joe Iurato with the Welling Court Mural Project in Astoria, Queens

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Photos 1 Courtesy of John Woodward; 2-4 Tara Murray; 5 Dani Reyes Mozeson and 6 Lois Stavsky

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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Flip-graffiti-pioneer-at-Centre-fuge

A pioneer of the graffiti movement, Charles Henry aka FLIP One was immortalized in Flint Gennari’s classic photo of him tagging a Coney Island-bound train over 40 years ago. And this past spring the now-iconic photo made its way onto a stencil fashioned by Balu for the Centre-fuge Public Art Project. I met up with the artist — now an LA-based Emmy award-winning cinematographer — while he was visiting NYC last month.

When and where did you first get up?

It was back in 1974 in Propsect Park, Brooklyn. I was 15.

What inspired you to?

Flint’s writings were everywhere in my neighborhood. He was my main inspiration. He also got me into photography. Other writers such as Spin, Coco 144 and Mico also influenced me. And I loved the adrenalin rush hitting the trains late nights and the little bit of fame watching my name go by.

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What was your preferred surface back then?

The Franklin Avenue shuttle.

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

They were not happy. My dad used to work for the MTA.

Do you have any specific graffiti memory that stands out?

I saw once — and only once — an LL Cool J top to bottom while I was riding the train to school. I will never forget that!

Flip-tags-graffiti

Did you work alone or did you collaborate with others?

I painted with the Ex Vandals and the Soul Stoned Brothers (SSB).  But I generally preferred working alone, because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

What was the riskiest thing you ever did?

Entering the 7 yard with Flint, Dime 139 and Asp across from Shea Stadium during a playoff game in the World Series. Luckily, the cops — who were supposed to be watching the yard — were too busy watching the game on their little black and white TV to pay attention to us! And so we managed to get in and out and do our thing in broad daylight without anyone noticing.

Has your work ever been exhibited?

Yes, my work has appeared in Flint Gennari’s photos in several galleries and museums. My small trains have been exhibited in galleries in LA.

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How do you feel about the movement of graffiti into galleries?

I think it’s great! It suggests that what we did has meaning.

What about the increasing engagement of the corporate world in the graffiti subculture?

I used to hate it, but it doesn’t bother me any more. Writers risked getting arrested, maimed — and more — for what they did. They should be paid!

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

It’s not an issue. My favorite artists tend to blur the line between both: They include: El MacRetna, ObeyMan One and Revok.

Flint-Flip-AimSSB

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

I love it! I get to see the work of people I used to war against!

Any thoughts as to why the Europeans are more open to graffiti than most Americans are?

I haven’t really thought about it, but maybe it’s because they place a higher value on self-expression.

And there’s probably no art form more expressive art than graffiti!

Photo credits: 1, 3-5 Lois Stavsky; 2 Flint Gennari; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo 3  features Balu to the right of Flip One and the last photo features Flint to the left and George Colon aka AIM SSB to the right of Flip One

Note: Jan Arnold, the artist’s wife, is in the process of completing a documentary about Flip One’s life. Be sure to check its Facebook page here for some great photos and clips!

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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flint-tags-centrefuge

Among the intriguing images that recently surfaced on the once-abandoned East Village trailer, curated by the Centre-fuge Public Art Project, is Balu‘s rendition of Ex-Vandal Flint Gennari’s photo of old school writer, Flip One. This past Sunday several legendary writers graced the trailer with their tags.

Balu captured at work earlier this month

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Nic 707 — to the right of Al Diaz aka Bomb 1 tag

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Rocky 184

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Kool Kito

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Snake 1

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Coco 144

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Nic 707, Snake 1, Coco 144, Rocky 184 and Flint

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All photos by bytegirl

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:Joe-Iurato-art-station16

Featuring stencil art by some of our favorite artists, STENCILED opens this Thursday evening, April 28, at Montreal’s Station 16 Gallery. Here is a small sampling of what will be on exhibit through May 21:

Also by Joe Iurato

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Logan Hicks

Logan Hicks_Skybridge_2016

Lady Aiko

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Icy and Sot

Icy-and- So-Desolate-stencil

Also featured in STENCILED is UK-based Snik

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 All photos courtesy Station 16

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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Peter-Bengsten-the-street-art-world-cover

Currently based in Sweden, Peter Bengtsen is an art historian and sociologist who has been researching street art for the past nine years. The Street Art World, a 248 page book, is the result of his research based on studies of everyday interaction among artists, gallerists, collectors, bloggers and street art enthusiasts.  I recently had the opportunity to read Peter’s engaging book and pose some questions to him.

When and how did you first become aware of street art?

I grew up in a small town in the Danish countryside, with virtually no exposure to graffiti or street art. As a kid I would sometimes see throw-ups by Tower and Carn in the underpasses when driving with my parents on the freeway, and those names have been stuck in my head ever since. It wasn’t until I moved to Copenhagen in 2000 that I really became aware of street art and graffiti, though.

You write that when you first discovered street art, you did not deem it “worth documenting and preserving.”  What changed your mind?

When I say that street art wasn’t worth documenting, what I really mean is that for a while the immediate and brief encounters with the work on the street were enough for me. However, over time I started getting attached to some of the artworks I passed regularly, and I also began recognizing the work of certain artists like HuskMitNavn and later Armsrock and Faile. I found myself feeling a bit sad when the artworks eventually disappeared, and I felt an urge to somehow keep them. Photography was one way of doing that. The technological developments around that time had a lot to do with making this form of documentation possible. Back in the early years of the 2000s I was using a film camera and I couldn’t afford to photograph graffiti and street art, but that changed when I got my first digital camera in early 2005.

Faile- Copenhagen-2004

When it comes to preserving street art, I am still conflicted. As an art historian, I see a value in keeping material examples of street artworks for posterity. However, a key part of street art for me is that artworks are transformed over time, because the street is open to change and dialogue. When street artworks are placed under glass or cut out of walls to be preserved in a more controlled environment that openness is taken away. In preserving street artworks, I think one of the essential things that set street art apart from other art may be lost.

Armsrock-street-art-Copenhagen- -2008- two months

As an academic, what are some of the challenges you face when researching and writing about street art?

Even before I started my research, I found expressions of a rather strong anti-intellectual and anti-institutional mindset in the street art world. These public expressions have become less dominant in recent years as street art gets more integrated in the mainstream art world. However, academics that are seen to attempt “investigating” street art – rather than actually engaging with the art and the social environment that surrounds it – are sometimes still looked upon as a species of “culture vulture,” swooping in to pick the bones of a social and cultural environment they know little about. Over the years I have seen researchers fail in their work because they lacked a fundamental understanding of the social rules of the field they were trying to study.

To mitigate the critical attitude towards academic researchers, and the institutional art world they are seen to represent, I think first impressions are very important. In my own case, because my interest in street art was not academic to begin with, I had already been socializing with other street art fans for some time when I started doing formal research in 2006. While I have still met some skepticism and received derisive comments regarding my role as a researcher and my attempts to intellectualize street art, I think the connections I already had with other enthusiasts made it a lot easier to move forward with my project. If I had come from the outside with a research agenda, things might have been different.

Banksy-stencil-art- London -2015-jpg

How have other street art enthusiasts – from bloggers and collectors to the artists themselves – responded to your academic approach to the subject?

Apart from the skepticism I already mentioned, people have generally been very positive during the research project. When I was working on the book, I had a lot of help from people who provided me with viewpoints, information, and – very importantly – photographs of artworks I couldn’t get to myself. My research budget doesn’t allow for expenses related to image rights, so if people hadn’t been so generous and willing to let me use their images, the book would have ended up looking very differently.

In terms of the finished book, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I was confident I had created a solid piece of scholarly work, but it was also very important to me to write something that people outside the academic world would be interested in reading and could relate to. From the comments I have received, street art enthusiasts enjoy the book and recognize the world I am describing. This doesn’t mean they always agree with everything I write, but to me that is really great. My goal with the book was never to present the “truth” about what street art is – I actually don’t believe one such single truth exists. My hope was that the book could be part of an ongoing dialogue about street art, and critical engagement and disagreement are essential to that.

Erica-ilcane mural-Grottaglie-Italy-2012

What are some of the changes that you have observed in the street art “world” since you first began documenting it and writing about it?

One of the most significant changes is that the street art world has become increasingly professionalized. This can be seen in for example the establishing of commercial magazines dedicated to so-called urban art, the increasing number of print houses and galleries that produce and/or sell limited edition artworks, the companies around the world that arrange commercial street art tours, and the vast number of street art festivals that have popped up in the past decade. With a more professional system in place, I think it has become easier for some artists to make a living from their work. While this is a positive development in many ways, from a personal point of view I do find it tiresome that some artists now seem to consider doing street work simply as a way of promoting their commercial wares. This is for example reflected in the number of websites and social media handles that are now included in, or placed next to, work in the street.

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Along with the professionalization, street art enthusiasts seem to have become increasingly focused on the market value of commercial products. I see this very clearly on street art forums. Members have always discussed the value of their collections, but investment potential has gradually become the main focus since 2006, when urban art really started becoming a thing with galleries and auction houses. I think this development may partly represent a change in attitude among the people who were into street art when I first started out with my studies, but I strongly suspect it is also because a different demographic has taken an interest in street art and/or urban art as an investment object. Sadly, it seems to me that critical discussion about the art itself has largely been quashed by the market.

What are some of the key factors that have contributed to these changes?

Money obviously has a lot to do with the way the street art world has developed. With the increasing recognition and popularity of street art/urban art, it has become big business for some to provide a growing customer base with consumable products like limited edition screen prints. As a result, a growing number of print houses are constantly on the lookout for new artists, and it is not uncommon to see prints from artists who have done very little street work. This is in part possible because artists today make very conscious efforts to be “discovered” quickly, for instance by placing their street work in highly photographed areas and by leaving their contact details in or next to the work.

04 unknow artist, Copenhagen (2008)

Having witnessed the market success of some of the older generation of street artists, it is perhaps not surprising that members of a new generation see doing street work as a shortcut to a commercial career. Lack of experience and maturity on the part of these artists may be one reason a lot of the commercial work released today is very formulaic and/or blatantly rips off previous work by other artists. Despite this, much of the published work seems to sell out. It is hard to say whether this is because customers actually like the artwork, and perhaps are unaware of the source material, or because they don’t want to miss out on what is often deliberately presented to them as an investment opportunity. However, the number of prints on the secondary market is an indication that a lot of customers do see their purchases as investments.

Apart from money, technological developments have profoundly influenced the street art world. Digital photography and videography has made it simple for people to create visual material, and the internet in general – and social media in particular — enables people to share what they, and others, produce.

05 unknown artist, Malmö (2015)

I think the ease of sharing content has played a very important role in the developments seen in the street art world. It is to a large degree through the online sharing of visual material that the interest in street art is spread to new people. These new enthusiasts — and potential consumers — form a basis for the continued existence of the marketplace that now constitutes a central part of the street art world.

Is street art dead? Or is it just sleeping?

I would say that all depends on your definition of street art. The notion of the death of street art comes about when someone experiences a conflict between a specific, subjective ideal of what street art should be and what they think it has become. The statement “street art is dead” has been popping up at regular intervals for as long as I have followed the street art world, yet people are still making, documenting, discussing and trading what they call street art. Although the street art world has become more professional and commercially oriented, much to the frustration of some, I don’t think this implies that street art is dead or even dying. It simply means street art – like all things – is evolving.

06 Kissmama paste-up, Copenhagen (2013)

Note: If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book or if you want more information about it, you can contact Peter at peter.bengtsen@kultur.lu.se. You can also check out Joe Austin‘s review of the book here

Interview by Lois Stavsky; all images courtesy Peter Bengtsen

1. Cover illustration:  Ericailcane

2.  Failepolaroid of paste-up, Copenhagen, 2004

3.  Armsrock, photos of the Danish artist in Copenhagen, taken in July and September 2008, illustrating how artworks are gradually transformed in the street context

4.  Banksy, stencil painting behind acrylic glass, London, 2015

5.  Ericailcane, mural Fame Festival, Grottaglie, 2012

6. Stencil, filling the street – a space already over saturated with commercial messages – with additional advertising

7. Stencil painting, unknown artist,  Copenhagen, 2008

8. Stencil, Malmo, Sweden, 2015

9. Kissmama, paste-up, Copenhagen, 2015

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available here for Android devices.

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Nick-walker-I-love-New-York-Quin-Hotel

Best-known for his sharply dressed, bowler-hatted vandal, the legendary British stencil artist Nick Walker — the  first ever artist-in-residence at the Quin Hotel — has returned!  Curated by DK Johnston, a series of Walker’s new artworks, along with his classic iconic stencil works, remain on view at the Quin through February 18th.  What follows are a few more images of his works on exhibit:

The vandal on 57th Street across from the Quin

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The vandal gets busy

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The vandal leaves his mark on a pair of Louboutins

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And here are a few of his huge stencil works currently on the streets of Manhattan:

In Chelsea

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On the Upper East Side

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In Little Italy

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The Quin Hotel is located at 101 West 57th Street at Sixth Avenue.

Photos: 1 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 3 Sara Mozeson; 4 courtesy DK Johnston and 5 & 7 Tara Murray

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