Zimer

I stopped by HG Contemporary‘s impressive new gallery space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn yesterday as several artists were busy at work preparing for tonight’s official launch.

After checking it out, I had the opportunity to speak with Sean Sullivan who, along with Harris Lobel, has curated the gallery’s opening exhibit:

This space is ideal, and the artwork looks wonderful! How did the opportunity come your way to curate this exhibit for HG Contemporary‘s grand opening here in Williamsburg?

Last month, Philippe Hoerle-Guggenheim, the founder of HG Contemporary in Chelsea, approached me and asked me if I would be interested in curating an exhibit along the lines of First City, the one I’d curated awhile back in Long Island.  I saw it as a great opportunity to give artists I admire a chance to exhibit alongside the fine artists who generally show at HG Contemporary.

How did you decide which artists to include?

That was difficult, as I would have liked to include many more. I chose artists with whom I’ve successfully worked with in the past, along with five others whose artwork I’ve admired, but with whom I’ve never worked. The final selection was a joint decision between me and Harris Lobel, who was involved in curating, along with me, the First City project. We were interested in showcasing the works of artists whom we believe deserve wide exposure.

I’m familiar with several of the artists — especially those whose work I’ve seen on the streets. Several, though, are new to me. Who are the artists that you both agreed to include in this grand opening?

Our final selection included: Albertus JosephZimer, Gumshoe, Jenna Krypell, Jason AckermanFridge, Jenna Morello, OG Millie and Reso 914.

There’s quite a diverse range of styles here. Had you a specific theme in mind?

We were interested in representing the various elements associated with street art and graffiti.  And so we sought a mix of images, words, letter technique, characters, color and flow.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this through?

As an artist who doesn’t like taking directions, I wasn’t all that comfortable giving directions to others. But it was something that I had to do. And it was difficult asking artists to put a halt to all that they were doing for two to three day, so that they could devote themselves for hours on end to this project.

I’m certain that many artists who worked with you in the past were disappointed that they weren’t included in such a significant exhibit.

Definitely! I was getting too many nasty direct messages. Dealing with that was another huge challenge. Of course, I would have loved to include more artists, and I do hope to include many others in future exhibits that I look forward to curating in this space.

In addition to the works painted directly onto the walls here, what else can visitors to the gallery expect to see?

All of the artists who are partipating will also exhibit works on canvas that are for sale. And in addition to the artists that Harris and I have brought in, HG Contemporary will be presenting a special installation by Franz Klainsek and works by Tim Bengel and Carl McCrow.

And how can folks who can’t make it to the official grand opening see the exhibit?

The gallery is conveniently located at 66 North 3rd Street off Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn .All are invited to visit the gallery during its regular opening hours.

Images

  1. Albertus Joseph
  2. Layer Cake
  3. Zimer
  4. Gumshoe
  5. Jenna Krypell
  6. Jason Ackerman & Fridge
  7. Jenna Morello
  8. OG Milli
  9. Reso 914

Interview and photos by Lois Stavsky

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

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Deeply passionate about street art and graffiti, Green Villain has curated dozens of walls in a range of styles in Jersey City and beyond, including many in NYC.  On September 29th, the public is invited to celebrate the launch of Green Villain‘s second volume in an ongoing book series documenting various projects. Vol. II: Mural Program is a 124 page time capsule of the past four years of productions. The mural pictured above was painted in Jersey City by Victor Ving of Greetings Tour in 2015. What follows are several more images of street art and graffiti  — featured in the new book — that have surfaced in Jersey City. Specific locations of the artworks are provided in Vol. II: Mural Program.

Zimer, Jersey City, 2016

Rime, Jersey City, 2015

Dmote aka Shank, Jersey City, 2015

Clarence Rich, Jersey City, 2017

Rotterdam-based Eelco, Jersey City, 2014

Austrian artist Nychos, Jersey City, 2016

All are invited to join the Limited Edition Photo Book Launch —

Date: September 29th
Time: 6PM – 10PM
Address: 218 Central Ave, Floor 2, Jersey City
Music: Soul/Funk Vinyl Selections by Open Crates 
Catered Food and Beverages by River Horse

The following photographers contributed to Vol. II: Mural Program:  Charles A Boyce,  Vincent Marchetto, Marek Pagoda, Gregory D. Edgel, Billy Schon, Andrea Riot, Jayne Freeman and William Benzon.

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to 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 past Sunday, I had the opportunity to meet up with Rocko, artist and founder of Spread Art NYC. We discussed the Biggie KONY mural that he’d painted with Zimer, the wide attention it has recently attracted and his efforts to preserve it.

When was the mural first painted? And how did you decide on its subject?

Zimer and I painted it back in 2015. As it was our first mural in Bed-Stuy, we decided that it must be of Biggie.

What about the specific site — on Quincy and Bedford? How did that come to be?

I researched Biggie and the neighborhood for about a year.  I picked this site for the mural because Biggie had referenced it in his first demo tape “Microphone Murderer.” I’d also found a video of Biggie freestyling at the age 17 on Bedford and Quincy. I located the site and was put in touch with the building’s owner, who agreed to let us paint a mural. We signed the agreement five minutes after we’d met!  I was impressed by the landlord’s kindness and generosity.

OGB-biggie-mural-bed-stuy

What was the initial response to the mural?

Incredible! It was all over the news. And in 2016, when Borough President Eric Adams recognized Biggie’s birthday, May 21, as Official Biggie Day, it received even more attention.

When did you find out about plans to remove it?

About four months ago, the landlord told me that he wished to renovate the property and add windows to it. I asked him to see if it was possible to do so without damaging the mural. He agreed to speak to the architect. But soon after, he asked us to pay $1250 a month to maintain it.

Why $1250 a month?

He told me that advertisers are renting other walls he owns for at least $1250 a month. And that if he didn’t add windows, he would have to charge me the $1250 he would otherwise get.

ogb-and-artists

How did you respond to that request?

I offered a one-time payment of $5000, but he said he had paid more than that in construction costs and permits, and that our mural is causing him to lose money. At that point, I couldn’t argue with him. I knew that he was telling me the truth.

What spurred you to post about the situation on Instagram?

There are so many people – from DJ 50 Grand to Matty C  to the OGB crew — deeply connected to this mural and all that it represents. We felt that we had to go public with the sad news that our beloved Biggie mural might be put to rest soon.

When did you find out that what you’d put out was going viral?

The next day, I woke up to a load of emails from local news sources wanting to get more info. Zimer and I declined to comment until we knew what was really going on.

quincy-and-bedford-bed-stuy

Among the many efforts from community members and organizations was a landmark petition. That was problematic to you. Why?

I don’t have any issue with the people who started the petition. They genuinely care about their community and culture.  But I didn’t want to go the way of a petition. Look at what happened to 5Pointz! On November 19, 2013, the landlord whitewashed the building overnight. I think we all have learned from that tragedy. And we didn’t want that to happen to the KONY Biggie mural.

How did the landlord react to the petition?

The landlord refused to even meet with me because he thought I was the one who’d started the landmark petition. He told me that he would do what it takes to protect his property.  At this point, I knew we were at the edge of losing.

Why do you suppose the landlord had taken such a strong stand?

He is well-known and well-respected in his community, and was most likely upset that he was being portrayed in a negative light.

Tyanna-Wallace-with-Biggie-mural

What was your next move in your determination to save the mural ?

I had to convince the landlord that I had nothing to do with the petition.  We were planning to have a huge Block party on Biggie’s birthday, but we had to cancel. There was too much confusion and misunderstanding.

What — do you think — caused him to change his mind and decide to let the mural remain?

During a two-hour meeting last Monday, it became obvious to me that he was not aware who Biggie was or of Biggie’s connection to Bedford and Quincy. I informed him that the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta rapper TI, and various Mega companies were willing to pay whatever to save the mural, and that the Mayor and Congressman Jeffries are also offering support. Once he understood the significance of the mural, he agreed to keep it. I had also made the point that other landlords were paying thousands of dollars to artists they hire to paint their building’s facades – and that it did not make any sense to remove artwork that was “gifted” to him and the community.

What a happy ending!  So the landlord did not ask for any money?

No! We didn’t have to pay anything. At the end of our meeting, I shook his hand and said, “Thank you, Mr. Berkowitz! You just made so many people happy.”

Images 

1  Rocko in front of the mural

2  OGB Crew

3  Zimer, Deejay 50 Grand and Rocko

4  Deejay 50 Grand with former Source magazine editor Matty C

5  Biggie’s daughter, T’yanna Wallace

Photos: 1 Lois Stavsky, 2-5 courtesy of Rocko; interview by Lois Stavsky

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

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Ben-Angotti-Biggie

Continuing through tomorrow, Sunday, at the Bishop Gallery is 20 Big Years, an artistic tribute to the late Biggie Smalls. Presented by Spread Art NYC, it features works in a range of styles by over a dozen of our favorite local artists. Pictured above is a portrait of Biggie painted by Ben Angotti. Here are several more images from the exhibit:

Danielle De Jesus, Untitled

Danielle-dejesus-biggie

Danielle Mastrion, Crook from the Brook

danielle-mastrion-biggie

OGMillie, Biggie Smalls

OGMillie-king-of-NY

Fumero, Grafsfract Biggie

fumero-painting-Biggie

A particular highlight of the exhibit is the collaborative piece by Rocko and Zimer, who had painted the now-iconic Biggie tribute mural on Bedford and Quincy. You can check that one out out — along with over 20 other tribute pieces — through tomorrow at the Bishop Gallery, 916 Bedford Avenue in Bed-Stuy.

rocko and zimer-street-art-NYC

Photo credits: 1-5 from 20 Big Years, Tara Murray; 6 Lois Stavsky

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Speaking with Rocko

February 26, 2015

"Rocko calligraffiti"

Fusing ancient Arabic scripts with modern Western strokes, Moroccan native Rocko has fashioned a distinct aesthetic that has been increasingly making its way onto NYC walls. We were delighted to have the chance to meet up with him this past weekend.

When did you first get up?

Back in Morocco in 1997. I was the first one to bomb in Meknès.  It was something that I had always wanted to do. I was a b-boy, and graffiti was always an essential aspect of that culture. I’d also painted for the pioneering hip-hop crew, Dogs, known these days as H-Kayne.

What about here in NYC?

Here in NYC I only work on legal spaces. There’s too much at risk here!

zimer-rocko-with-passerby-720

What was your first piece here?

Three years ago I did my first piece for the Pita Palace on Montrose and Bushwick.

What was the experience like?

I loved it. I particularly love the interaction with the passersby as I’m painting.

What kinds of surfaces do you prefer?

As I generally paint with brushes, I need smooth surfaces. I also look for spots with no trees of cars blocking the view.

How have folks responded to your particular aesthetic – a fusion of Arabic calligraphy and graffiti?

The response was been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. I am constantly asked to design tattoos featuring my particular calligraffiti.

Rocko

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

They love it. Everyone is supportive.

What percentage of your day is devoted to your art?

About 40%.

What is your main source of income?

I work as a director of a senior center in Bushwick.

What are some of your other interests?

Cycling. I race for the Brooklyn Arches.

rocko-calligraffiti-on-canvas

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

I feel that it’s reached a turning point in recent weeks. I expect there will be less of a division from now on.

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries? Have you shown your work in galleries?

I’m fine with it. It’s just a different context. Yes, I’ve shown my work in a number of spaces in Brooklyn.

What about the corporate world? Any thoughts about that?

I don’t mess with it!

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I often work alone, but I’ve collaborated with a number of artists including Zimer, Eelco and N Carlos J.

eelco-and-Rocko-and-Vera-Times-street-art-dodworth-NYC

Is there anyone in particular you would like to collaborate with?

I love what Sek3 is doing. I would like to collaborate with him.

When I first saw your work, I confused you with Retna. Does that happen often?

Yes! But I’ve been doing it for 34 years. It’s my culture!

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

I think it’s very important. It introduces us to so much.

Do you have a formal arts education?

No, I never went to art school. I’m self-taught. I began doing Arabic calligraphy when I was four years old with a wooden pencil!

rocko-and-n-carlos-j-street-art-bushwick-nyc

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

Just me in my studio. But working on public walls is more fun!

What inspires you these days?

Everything I see around me!

Are there any particular cultures you feel influenced your aesthetic?

Arabic.

Rocko-and Eelco-street-art-nyc

Do you work with a sketch in your hand or do you let it flow?

Never!  I freestyle.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

It’s gotten better. Sharing my work in public spaces pushes me to work harder at my craft.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

The artist has a huge responsibility to his or her community – to enhance it in a respectful manner.

Rocko-calligraffiti-Brooklyn-NYC copy

How do you feel about the photographers and bloggers in this scene?

They are very important!

What do you see as the future of street art?

It will just keep on growing and evolving.

And what about you? What’s ahead?

More walls, more collabs and more exhibits. I will also continue to curate the Dodworth Mural Project that I launched last year.

That sounds wonderful! We are looking forward! 

Interview by Lois Stavsky with Houda Lazrak; first photo courtesy of the artist; all others by Lois Stavsky; photo 2 is a collaborative with Zimer; 5 with Eelco and Vera Times; 6 with N Carlos J and 7 with Eelco

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On our recent visit to Jersey City this past Friday, Gregory D. Edgell aka the Green Villain gave us a tour of some of Jersey City’s newest murals, including some wonderful ones that he curated. Here’s a sampling of those:

Li Hill

"Li Hill"

Vexta

Vexta

Kem5

Kem5

Zimer

Zimer

Enoe

Enoe

Jerkface

Jerkface

Mes PFE

Mespfe

All photos by Lois Stavsky, except for Kem5, courtesy of Greg.

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Zeso

Earlier this year, over a dozen first-rate graffiti writers refashioned Long Island’s Oil City Skate Park. Under the curatorial direction of Zeso and his partner, Nino, the Oil City Skate Park Jam transformed the huge indoor venue into a graffiti wonderland. Here are a few more images that I captured while visiting last Sunday:

Shiro and Yes1

"Shiro and Yes1"

Zeso and Soir 2

"Zeso and Soir"

Skize

Skize

Hoacs

Hoacs

Just

"Just One"

Zimer

Zimer

Zeso

Zeso

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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This is the fourth in a series of occasional posts featuring images of children that surface on NYC public spaces:

Joe Iurato in Bushwick

"Joe Iurato"

Danielle Mastrion at the Bushwick Collective

"Danielle Mastrion"

Chris Stain at the Bushwick Collective

"Chris Stain"

Stinkfish in Bushwick for the Juicyartfest

"Stinkfish"

Icy and Sot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

"icy and sot"

Zimer in Bushwick for the Bushwick Collective

Zimer

Photos of Danielle Mastrion and Zimer by Dani Reyes Mozeson; of Joe Iurato, Chris Stain, Stinkfish and Icy and Sot by Lois Stavsky

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

Chris RWK at the Woodward Gallery Project Space on Manhattan’s Lower East Side

Chris RWK

Luv1 at the Bushwick Collective

Luv1

RAE and Abel Macias in Bushwick, Brooklyn

RAE

Zimer does James Gandolfini at the Bushwick Collective

Zimer

Magdalena Marcenaro aka Magda Love in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

Magda Love street art

The Dude Company does Talib Kweli in DUMBO, Brooklyn

The Dude Company

Owen Dippie in the Tremont section of the Bronx

Owen Dippie

Ces at Hunts Point in the Bronx

Ces

Icy and Sot in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Icy and Sot

Photos by Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky

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Close to a dozen masters of styles and letters — representing both the East and West coasts — hit the walls in Bushwick this past weekend. Here are a few images:

Queens-based Hoacs

"Hocas graffiti" More after the jump!

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