the Bronx

Celebrating the launch of the Ngozy Art collective, along with the Point’s 25 years of community service and outreach in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, 20 legendary Bronx writers painted live this past Saturday on the Point Campus for the Arts and Environment. Produced by the Ngozy Art collective and curated by Sade TCM, the event, A Cultural Happening in Da’ Bronx, was an ode to the borough that forged a culture that has since impacted the entire world. Beginning next week, the masterfully crafted works — brimming with infectious energy, dazzling colors and expressive creativity — can be viewed on the website of the Ngozy Art collective that will offer local artists a platform to share and sell their artwork.

The image featured above was painted by BIO Tats Cru.  Several more paintings that surfaced last Saturday follow:

John “Crash” Matos

Stash

Chris “Daze” Ellis

Totem TC5

Sienide

Pase BT

Nicer Tats Cru

Saturday’s event also featured a gallery-style exhibition designed by the Point artist-in-residence Eric Orr.  And the legendary hip hop DJ and producer Jazzy Jay, presented by Christie Z, added the musical element to the day.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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nether-mural-art-tag-project-bronx-nyc

Founded and curated by SinXero, the TAG Public Arts Project — a A 501(c)3 Not for Profit in NY State — continues to bring a wonderfully diverse range of public artworks to the South Central section of the Bronx. Pictured above is a mural recently painted by Baltimore-based artist Nether 410. Here are a few others — fashioned by local, national and international artists — that I came upon this past Friday while exploring the streets on and off Westchester Avenue along the 6 line.

Brooklyn-based Australian artist Damien Mitchell, close-up 

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Hong Kong-based Italian artist Barlo, close-up

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The legendary NYC-based Daze

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With Brazilian artists TOZ & BR from the Flesh Beck Crew to his left, close-up

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 NYC-based Sole Rebel

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NYC-based Puerto Rican artist Ralph Serrano

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Rochester-based Mr. Prvrt and NYC-based A Visual Bliss, close-up

Mr-prvrt-visual-bliss-mural-art-bronx-nyc

 Photo credits: 1 Courtesy SinXero; 2-8 Lois Stavsky

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valeri-larko-Bronx-Museum-of-art-NYC-with-painting

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.

Valeri-Larko-Boone

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!

Valeri-Larko-painting-Top-Dollar

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!

Valeri-Larko-Top Dollar-Bronx

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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rigoberto-toress-sculpture-Daze-graffiti

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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BG183-close-up-spray-paint-on_edited

A founding member of the legendary Bronx-based Tats Cru, the masterful BG 183 recently met up with us at his solo exhibit, Autumn Spray, in Hunts Point.

BG183-and-artwork-in Hunts-Point-gallery

When did it all begin?

Actually, my big sister got me started. I used to watch her draw all the time, and I was amazed! I wanted to try it too! So when I was about four — and she was nine — she noticed me drawing and encouraged me. I never stopped!

What inspired you to hit the streets?

Graffiti was all around me. I loved its bright, bold colors. But I had to begin by practicing my tag, the real element of it all. And then after hitting up stacks of paper, I began bombing on public surfaces. I was about 16 at the time. I wanted the fame!

crash-bg183-graffiti-east-harlem-nyc

Any early memories that stand out?

Bombing the inside of James Monroe High School and hitting the trains riding back and forth from school.

Any particularly risky moments?

Getting chased while painting trains and dealing with other crews.

bg183-bushwick

How did your family feel about what you are doing back then?

My mother was cool – until Michael Stewart’s death. Then she became very uneasy about what I was doing.

I can understand that. What percentage of your day is devoted to your art these days?

100%. I’m either doing commissions or working on my own body of work.

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What keeps you painting after all these years?

I love it, and I want to be the best.

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

It’s a natural progression.

BG-tats-cru-graffiti-Bronx-NYC

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

Both. Working with my crew – Tats Cru – helps me keep my skills on a high level.

You’ve painted throughout the globe. Why do you suppose graffiti is more respected as an art form in Europe than here in the U.S.?

There is a huge respect there for anything from New York.

bg183-graffiti-mural-art-Hunts-Point-NYC

And yet the European writers have largely taken graffiti to another level – beyond what we see here in NYC. Why do you suppose that is so?

Many of the writers here don’t really try to. They simply don’t feel the need to evolve.

Interesting! How you feel about the role of the Internet in this scene?

It’s great! It gets my name out there.

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Do you have a formal arts education?

None! Just the Major Art class I took in high school. That’s where I got to know Bio.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Yup!

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What about your name? How did you get the name BG 183?

When I was in high school, I was the one to BrinG the bats to the baseball team. And 183 refers to the number of my styles – as I have so many!

Yes! You certainly are versatile. The work in this exhibit is so different from most of your work that I’ve seen on the streets. What inspired it?

The life I live! The images represent my life.

BG183-Tats-Cru-graffiti-NYC

And what about the colors. They are wonderful!

Fall was on my mind, and my wife suggested these particular colors.

What’s ahead?

I’d like to focus more on creating a body of work that can be shown in galleries and museums.

Note: Curated by Sien and Eric Orr, Autumn Spray remains on view through November 15th at More Points Bx, 727 Faile Street in Hunts Point.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 6, 7, 9 & 10 Lois Stavsky; 3 (with Crash on the left) Dani Reyes Mozeson; 4, 5 & 8 Tara Murray; interview by Lois Stavsky

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A visit to the South Bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point this past Monday led to the discovery of some of its recently-surfaced graffiti murals. Here is a sampling:

Deem

"Nelson Deem"

Dero

Dero

Pase

pase-graffiti-hunts-point-nyc

Gusto and Owns

"Gusto and owns"

Logek

Logek

Siek Fly ID

"Siek Fly ID"

Seter

Seter

Mast

Mast

All photos by Tara Murray

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