the Bronx Museum of the Arts

As alluring as the artist herself, Lady K Fever’s workspace is an oasis of feverish creativity. Featured above is a selection of Lady K Fever’s handbags from her line of newly crafted accessories. What follows are several more images I captured while visiting her Bedford Park studio space last week:

Spray-painted spray cans

Be Boy, Be Ready

Feverish, logo for Lady K Fever’s accessories

In the Key of F Minor, Close-up

And Lady K Fever modeling her bag and new line of street wear

A selection of Lady K Fever‘s new line of accessories and handbags can be purchased at the Bronx Museum of the Arts‘ gift shop and at the upcoming Bronx Museum Artisan Market on Saturday, December 9th. You can check out Lady K Fever‘s Etsy shop here.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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On view through June 26 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts is Bronx Focus: Paintings by Valeri Larko, an extraordinary visual ode to a borough whose landscape is rapidly changing. Among Valeri Larko‘s paintings are many that are infused with the Bronx’s gritty graffiti. With her impeccable renderings of tags, throw-ups and pieces, the artist has immortalized our favorite art form in the borough that birthed it. On revisiting the exhibit last week, I had the opportunity to meet Valeri, who gave a tour of her exhibit.

We love the way you are keeping some of our favorite walls alive through your paintings. What spurred you to focus on this aspect of the Bronx?

I’ve always been interested in the urban landscape, and when I moved from New Jersey to New Rochelle — just a short drive from the Bronx — I discovered the just how rich the graffiti in the Bronx is. I think it is gorgeous, and I love how sites with graffiti always have great stories to tell.

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Can you tell us something about your process? How long does it take from beginning to end to create a painting?

Everything is done on location. If a site interests me, I begin with a quick pen and ink sketch in a small notebook using a uni-ball pen. If I then decide that I want to do a painting of the particular scene, I do an oil sketch of it. For most of my studies, I work on 300 pound watercolor paper that I staple to a board. For the larger version, I typically paint two to three months, also on location.

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What are some of the challenges you face in producing this work?

The weather is, by far, my greatest challenge. The wind is my biggest enemy. My car is — many times — my only shelter, and that is where you will often find me painting, especially in the winter months.

How do the graffiti artists feel about what you are doing? 

They love it. If they see a blank surface at a particular space where I am painting, they will sometimes ask if they can leave their mark on it — to be included in my painting.

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What is your most memorable experience of painting on location?

There are so many, but here is one that comes to mind: I had been working at a site for several weeks on Top Dollar, a painting of a trailer truck. Then one day when I showed up, I was surprised to find a very large boat in front of the truck. I could’t imagine how it got there! Luckily, I had mostly finished the painting, and the boat seemed too clean, too pristine and too out of place to include. But a few days later, the graffiti artist SAET with his friend NARO showed up. Once SAET had christened the boat with his tag, it was totally transformed. And so I decided to add the boat to the painting. I was even thinking of doing a new painting of the boat. But that never happened!

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Why was that? Why didn’t you get to do the new painting of the boat?

While I was still working on Top Dollar, Tommy — who was living in the Jay’s Hot Dog Camper — informed me that the site was about to be demolished. That is one of the hazards of working on site. Whoa! I still needed at least a week to finish my painting. Luckily I found the guys doing the demolition work, and they agreed to give me one more week to complete my painting! It actually took me eight days, and within hours after I finished, everything on the site was demolished. And what about Tommy who had been living in the camper? He headed on a Greyhound back home to Kansas City where he and his sons had built two houses!

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What’s next? Are any walls calling you? Any sites that particularly intrigue you?

Yes! I discovered an abandoned golf course across from Co-op City. And since I don’t know how much longer it will be around, I’ve been heading there as often as I can!

 What an incredible visual history you are creating!  And we are already looking forward to your upcoming solo exhibit at WallWorks in the fall.

Images

1. Valeri Larko — as seen last week — at the Bronx Museum

2. Ferris Stahl Meyer Diptych, close-up

3. Corner of Boone Avenye and 173rd Street

4. Bronx Drawbridge

5. Valeri Larko painting at Top Dollar

6. Top Dollar

Photo credits: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4 City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen; 5 John Wyatt & 6 courtesy of the artist; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky with Sol Raxlen

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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Among the thoroughly engaging exhibits currently on view at the Bronx Museum of the Arts are two with special appeal to us street art and graffiti aficionados. Spotlight: John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres showcases a series of sculptures by the two artists, whose works continue to delight us on the streets of the Bronx.  And Bronx Focus: Paintings by Valeri Larko features stunningly realistic renditions of Bronx graffiti, including some of our favorite walls that no longer exist. While visiting the Museum last week, we had the opportunity to speak to Lauren Click, the Director of Community and Public Programs.

Thank you for reaching out to us. Can you tell us something about your role here?

As director of community and public programs, I organize public programs related to Museum exhibits and events. I also work with the Community Advisory Council (CAC) a volunteer group of local residents with the goal of raising awareness of the Museum and organizing programming in response to community needs.

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What are some of the successful means that have been used to accomplish this?

I like to introduce folks to new experiences while mixing them with familiar ones. For example, on senior Thursdays we combine tea services with multimedia collaborative activities. We also have a weekly newsletter we send to subscribers informing them of all the events that take place. This is part of our effort to establish a large presence on social media. Our twitter page has over 38,000 followers. And since admission has become free, we have had four times as many visitors than we used to.

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What are some of the challenges that you face?

The greatest challenge is fighting the stereotype of being located in the Bronx. People are not aware of how rich and varied the cultural opportunities are in this borough.

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What would you like to see happen here at the Bronx Museum?

I would like to see it continue to evolve and engage increasingly diverse audiences.

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How can people stay informed as to all that is happening here at the Bronx Museum of the Arts?

They can follow our Calendar of Events on the Museum’s website. They can also keep up with us on Twitter, on Facebook and on Instagram.

Note: This Saturday — May 14, 2:00pm to 3:30pm — Valeri Larko will offer a free guided tour of her exhibit Bronx Focus: Paintings by Valeri Larko. The Museum is located at 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx and is easily accessible by public transportation.

Images

1 Rigoberto Torres, Daze

2 John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres

3 Valeri Larko, Zerega Avenue

4 Valeri Larko, Ferris Stahl Meyer Shipping

Valeri Larko, Power Ball

Photo credits: 1 Tara Murray; 2-5 City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen; interview Lois Stavsky, Sol Raxlen and Tara Murray

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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