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"WK Interact"

A pop-up exhibit — celebrating the release of WK‘s fourth book WK/ACT4 (DRAGO) and the launch of his partnership with KLINIK — opened on Tuesday evening at The Garage in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.  A huge range of work — from mixed-media installations to huge murals — is featured. Here’s a sampling:


"WK Interact"

Close-up from huge mural featuring locations and images of WK‘s works in NYC public spaces

"WK Interact"

And the book

"WK Interact book"

"WK Interact"

The exhibit continues until Wednesday at 22 Little West 12th Street.  It remains open from 12 – 6pm.

Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson



To celebrate the launch of the new book from Wooster CollectiveELEVEN SPRING: A CELEBRATION OF STREET ART, artist ELBOW-TOE remembers the historic event and its impact on the world of street art.

I was talking to a younger artist the other day about street art that I was involved in as opposed to murals — which she considers street art — and she said, “Oh, you mean vandalism.”

How did we get here?


I recall the moment that I knew I wanted to be a street artist – I was at work, and one afternoon, my friend pointed me to this post on a blog I had never heard of called Wooster Collective. It was an image by an artist who had photoshopped street signs, so that they looked transparent from the correct angle. It was absolutely magical. How did it get there? Who was the artist? I had seen some street art around over the years: WK Interact when I was in school in the early 90’s and around the early 2000’s quite a bit of NECKFACE around the corner from a print shop I was using.


As I began to explore the archives of Wooster Collective, I saw that there was in fact a community that had built up around these random acts of art that I had paid little heed beyond the internal “huh, that’s interesting.” What was truly fascinating about the work was that, aside from a moniker, the work was anonymous. In that anonymity there existed a mystery. It elevated even the most banal work, purely by the act of risk that was involved. And for the first time in over a decade in the city, it pulled me out of my tunnel vision and got me looking at the walls as spaces to be activated.


The Wooster Collective site was such an impeccably curated space that it got people outside of the movement to give it their attention. Having known the Schillers over those early years, I, of course, was head over heels when I was asked not only to be involved in their secret project but to be given a coveted space on the main floor. At the time I don’t think any of us realized that this exhibition would have the impact that it did.


11 Spring was truly a transformative exhibition; it reflected the very transition that would occur wholeheartedly in this movement just by walking from the outside of the building to the inside. The exterior of the building still had the raw power of getting your work up. The work was often messy and might last only a few hours before being covered by a new piece. Contrast the organic energy of the ever-changing composition on the shell with an impeccably curated show inside the five floors of a gutted building, where all these artists were able to truly flex their technical and creative muscles without concern of the work being damaged or transformed by others.


It was this mercurial quality of traveling from the outside to the inside and then back out again that gave this show such power in my opinion. I am not sure that there is a direct correlation of this show to the mural program that followed, but it certainly opened a larger audience up to the possibilities of their public spaces’ potential.

I will always cherish the experience.


Note: With its outstanding documentation, along with an introduction by Shepard Fairey and an afterword by JR,  ELEVEN SPRING: A CELEBRATION OF STREET ART captures an important moment in the history of the movement. Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 29 — from 6:30 to 8:00 PM — Marc and Sara Schiller, along with FAILE, Lady Pink, Michael DeFeo, and WK Interact, will be at the Strand for a special signing and celebration of the book’s launch. You can buy tickets to the event here










UR New York

We recently had the opportunity to speak to the dynamic Mike Baca aka 2ESAE and Fernando Romero aka SKI of the collective UR New York at Pop International’s new pop-up location at the Atrium at 153 East 53rd Street – where a vibrant new series of the talented duo’s art is on view.

When was UR New York born?

Mike: It started back in 2002 as a clothing line. But it died out for a while.

Fernando: Then in 2011 we revived it as an art collective.

You two are such a great team. How did you guys meet?

Fernando: We met through a mutual friend in 2005.

What would you say is the key to your success as a team?

Fernando: We don’t let the success get to us. We do what we do because it feels right.  As individuals we’re strong, but when we work together as a team, we are even stronger. And we are like brothers.

Do you guys have a mission of some kind?

Fernando: It’s all about individuality. Most people are sheep. The message is: Don’t be sheep. Be who you are, and be the best that you can be – whoever you are and whatever you do.

UR New York street art

Have you a formal art education?

Mike: I went to the High School of Art and Design.

Fernando: I graduated from Parsons in 2006.

Any thoughts about art school, Fernando?

It was an amazing experience. I met so many talented people – students and teachers — and I now have friends from all over the world.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

Fernando: We’ve begun to focus much more on detail. We experiment with different styles and variations of colors.

Mike: We’ve learned how to step out of our comfort zone.

UR New York

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

Fernando: Even though it’s been going on for awhile, it’s a process. It will take awhile for graffiti to be accepted by the art establishment.

Mike:  As long as you keep it real, it’s a great platform. And at this gallery – Pop International – a percentage of our sales goes to CAW, a non-profit that offers free arts workshops to kids uptown.

Tell us something about your experiences here at Pop International and CAW.

Mike: It’s been awesome. The folks here at Pop International are like family to us. And through CAW, we’ve been working with kids. It’s great serving as role models.

Fernando:  Definitely. It’s been a great experience. And we get to hang out in this gallery and see our artwork hanging alongside the likes of Keith Haring and Basquiat!

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Fernando: Among my favorites are: KA, Belin from Spain and my partner, Mike Baca!

Mike: I like Skewville, REVS, Smart CrewKA and See One.

UR New York and KA

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

Mike: I can appreciate street art. I like the way it interacts with the environment. But there’s a natural tension between graffiti writers and street artists, as many writers risked their lives to make their mark. But we’re all in this together, playing in the same arena.

Have you any first graffiti memory that comes to mind?

Mike:  I remember finding a can of spray paint in my basement. I took it to school with me and wrote my name in the schoolyard. I got suspended.

Fernando: I was about six years old when I saw my cousin writing for the first time in Astoria, Queens. By the time I was ten, I started writing my name around my neighborhood.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Mike: My whole life is devoted to art. I don’t have a day job, and I almost never sleep.

Fernando: When I’m not making art, I’m thinking about what I’m going to make.

UR New York

Any artists out there you’d like to collaborate with?

Fernando: How and Nosm, Os Gemeos, C215, Jose Parla, Doze Green, WK Interact

Mike: If I could collaborate with anyone, I’d choose BluRoa and Mode.

Any thoughts about the role of the Internet in all this?

Fernando: I see it as good and bad. It’s good because it can give an artist mass exposure. But – at the same time – a nobody can become a somebody. And that’s not good.

Mike: The Internet is the devil. There’s just too much information out there.  But on the plus side, you can get to show your work anywhere.

Any theories as to why graffiti is more embraced in Europe than here in the US?

Mike: People are more relaxed there and more appreciative of everything.

Fernando: Europeans are generally more open than Americans. They’re more laid back. Art has been a part of  European culture far longer, and Europeans tend to respect and appreciate it more.

KA and UR NewYork

Which countries have you guys painted in?

Fernando: Australia, Italy, Austria, Israel, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Canada, much of the US and Puerto Rico.

Any favorite cities?

Fernando: There’s nothing like NYC.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Fernando: Women, cars, buildings…just walking with my eyes open inspires me.

Mike: NYC. It’s a monster. It’s always alive and a constant source of inspiration.

Tell us something about your process.

Mike: It’s organic. We just let it flow.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Mike: We always strive to make it better.

What’s ahead?

Mike: Painting on a larger scale; working more with children and curating shows for people who don’t have the opportunities that we have.

Fernando: All that and making five times as much money!

Photos by Dani Mozeson and Lois Stavsky; the two trucks featured are by UR New York in collaboration with KA

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Speaking with Sean Lugo

September 3, 2014

Based in Weehawken, New Jersey, Sean Lugo has been sharing his distinct vision and talents with us not only on the streets of nearby Jersey City, but here in NYC, as well. I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to him.

"Sean Lugo"

When did you first get up? And where?

It was back in 1998; I was 17. I tagged up around my neighborhood in Union City, NJ.

Had you any preferred surfaces back then?

Nope! Any open space was fine.

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

I was living with my sister at the time. She thought I was an idiot!

"Sean Lugo"

Have you any early graffiti-related memories that stand out?

I remember going to a Mets game with my father and seeing graffiti on the trains and at 5Pointz as we rode by on the 7 line. I was amazed! It was the most graffiti I’d ever seen anywhere. I was about 12 at the time.

What percentage of your day is devoted to art?

Just about all of it! I work as an art handler during the day, and then I spend about five hours each day working on my own art.

Any other interests?

Sports. I love football!

"Sean Lugo"

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

I don’t personally feel the divide. They are both outlets for us to express ourselves.

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

I like it! I’d like to see even more gallery owners open their spaces to us. Folks who run galleries need to be more aware of what’s going on in the streets.

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

I think it’s beautiful.  It’s connected me to so many others.

"Sean Lugo"

Do you have a formal arts education?

No. I’m self-taught.

What’s the riskiest thing you’ve done?

Well, definitely the stupidest was bombing with Werds off the High Line. We climbed up via a truck, and after spending over eight hours up there, we had to jump down to reach the ground.

What inspires you these days?

Concepts. I’m inspired by the masks that people wear as they try to project a false illusion of themselves. Most people are fake. And it is the incongruity between who people appear to be and who they really are that drives my art these days.

"Sean Lugo"

Has your aesthetic been influenced by any particular cultures?

I’m influenced by all cultures – but particularly my own, the Spanish culture.

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

I draw everything out, and I like to choose a spot before I draw.

What is your ideal working environment?

A quiet room with any kind of music in the background.

"Sean Lugo"

Are you generally satisfied with your finished product?


How has your work evolved in the past few years?

It’s become more dramatic, and I engage with it more seriously.

How’s that?

I look at life differently than I used to. On August 1, 2011, I was in a car accident in Jersey City. The guy who hit me died, and I almost did. As a result of this trauma, I’ve come to understand just how brief and fragile life is.

And can you tell us something about wheat pastes – your preferred medium?

Yes, I love using wheat pastes because they perfectly mirror life’s temporality.

"Sean Lugo"

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

To spur others to become more creative.

And what about how society views the artist? Any thoughts as to how others view you?

Too many folks view art as a business.

Any favorite artists who share their work on the streets?

So many! But to name a few: LNY, Ekundayo, Vinz, NoseGo

What’s ahead?

I want to continue doing art on the streets and interacting more with public space. I’d love to create an entire, interactive scene just using wheatpastes!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos 3, 5 and 6 by Lois Stavsky; others courtesy of Sean Lugo.