Books

The following book review is by Street Art NYC contributor Houda Lazrak

For over a decade, the POW! WOW! Street Art Festival has been bringing standout murals by internationally renowned artists to cities throughout the globe. POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art, authored by the festival’s founder and curator Jasper Wong and published by Paragon Books, pays a well-deserved homage to the hundreds of murals created during the festival’s many iterations.

POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art, chronicles POW! POW!’s many editions in fifteen cities, with page spreads of striking murals. Each chapter begins with an image of a location’s discerning geographic or urban features: Taiwan’s sprawling nightlights, Long Beach’s palm-tree lined waterfront, Antelope Valley’s field of tulips, Haiwai’s oceanside downtown, Rotterdam’s glass-lined buildings.

Photographs of the murals follow with many in-progress images of artists at work including: Nychos, Jeff Soto, Cinta Vidal and Tran Nguyen. The process shots are dynamic and illustrate the labor of mural making. Readers are also provided with biographical information of each of the participating artists.

Featured are many examples of collaborative murals. The mural painted by James Bullough and Ricky Watts, for example, fuses Bullough’s realistic portraiture with Watts’ fluid shapes and psychedelic patterns. In another mural highlighted, Rone’s figurative signature style meets Aaron de la Cruz‘s calligraphic mazes. And featured, too, is a three-person collaboration between Cambodian, Japanese and Hawaiian artists Andrew Hem, Yoskay Yamamoto and Edwin Ushiro, respectively.

The book also features candid shots of festival goers, participants and organizers, offering a window into the festival’s atmosphere beyond the art-making. In his forward, editor-in-chief of Booooooom Jeff Hamada, describes the festival’s intention as a “naive desire to bring people together – not just to paint walls and go home, but to actually get to know each other, share stories, and form real friendships.

Jasper Wong also writes that the festival’s name itself, POW!WOW!, “is taken from a Native American term that describes a gathering that celebrates culture, music and art, which spoke to [their] core mission to beautify, educate and bring people together through art and music.” The book portrays this intention and the excitement that unravels. The unique urban culture of cities is also shown in image compilations. Among these are: Korea’s thriving music and food scene, and San Jose’s bicycle culture.

POW!WOW! is often invited to return to its host cities, attesting to the positive value that murals add to the vitality of metropolises. In flipping through the pages, the location types are noticeable: artworks are often erected in residential areas, discrete alleyways, and unpretentious parking lots. It serves as a reminder of POW!WOW!’s contribution to diverse neighborhoods, beyond hyper visible spots in downtowns areas or arts districts.

POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art is a welcome addition to any street art aficionado’s library and can be purchased from most online book stores.

Featured images

1 Book cover, TRAV MSK, in Long Beach, California, 2018

2 Overview of Taiwan

3 Nychos & Jeff Soto, Hawaii, 2013

4 James Bullough and Ricky Watts, Hawaii, 2018

5 Jet Martinez, San Jose, 2017

6 PichiAvo, Worcester, 2017

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When the talented Netherlands-based artist Karski teamed up with the brand Tia Maria, not only was a splendid abstract design – with one-of-a-kind colors – launched for a new drink, but an elegant book, CONTRAST, was produced, as well. With its splendid selection of images by first-rate international artists and its informative, engaging text, CONTRAST — by Karski and friends — is a cause for celebration.

A small sampling of images from CONTRAST follows:

 Karski, Untitled, Mixed media, Amsterdam, 2019

Karski and Netherlands-based Beyond — who have been working as a duo since 2012 — Untitled, PowWow Festival, Rotterdam, 2019

Karski and Beyond, Untitled, Bjelovar, Croatia, 2017

Karski and Beyond. The Holy Stork, The Hauge, 2019

Brazilian artist Sipros — whom Karski first met in 2013 when he had traveled to São Paulo to paint at the MuBE, the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture and Ecology — Four faces, Big ears, Wynwood Arts District, Miami, 2019

The legendary NYC-based Chris “Daze” Ellis — one of Karski’s early inspirations — Untitled, NYC, 2016

Venezuela-born, Munich-based SatOne, Counterbalance, Frankston, Australia, 2019

In addition to the captivating artworks, among the many items of interest in CONTRAST is the fascinating chronology of Karski’s life as an artist — from the moment he picked up a spray can at age 10 to his recent experimentation with abstract work. And wonderfully intriguing, too, are the artists’ intimate impressions of one another.

Also featured in CONTRAST are: the Netherlands-based duo TelmoMeil; Amsterdam-born, Buenos Aires-based Nasepop; Rotterdam-based duo Bier En Brood; Amsterdam-based Stefan Nikolai Ormeling; Colombian native Zurikt; the late Spanish artist Treze and London-based Bonzai.

A paean to contemporary street art and to the notion of bringing together opposites in a world of contrasts, the limited-edition CONTRAST delights!

Images courtesy Karski and Tia Maria

Photo 6 of Sipros: Karin du Maire

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With street artists fiercely focusing now on addressing the social, economic and racial inequalities that the pandemic has only accentuated, Bill Posters’ new book, The Street Art Manual, is particularly timely. It is a paean to the spirit of art as activism.

For the past decade, Bill Posters — an award-winning artist, author and agitator — has worked alongside other artists and activists to create some of the world’s most illicit and impressive art projects. In The Street Art Manual, he earnestly, but playfully, presents practical guidance and advice on creating street art that challenges the inequitable status quo.

Providing tactics for successfully mounting campaigns that infiltrate the public sphere with everything from graffiti, stencils and pasteups to huge murals, projectiles and guerrilla projections, Poster discusses and describes in detail the necessary materials and techniques each mission demands. He also provides an extensive list of DO’s and DON’T’s for each of the distinct genres of street art. Should you subvert advertisements, for example, you are advised to “look like an employee of an outdoor-ad company” and not to “go out at a time that is different from when the real worker goes out to work.”

While many of the interventions featured are unsanctioned and can — if not carried out cautiously — involve a range of risks, not all are. One of the mediums included in The Street Art Manual is mural art. Large-scale murals — which so many of us have come to identify with corporate interests and gentrification — can also enrich neighborhoods. Artists painting outdoor murals have the opportunity and space to raise awareness of critical issues, celebrate distinct cultures and engage local folks. It is a way for artists, contends Posters, to give back to others while awakening consciousness.

The Italian artist Millo, for example, painted an 11-story-tall mural in the center of Santiago symbolizing “the hope that we must all find in relation to protecting the environment and reversing the ecological destruction that is causing our climate to collapse.”

Of particular interest to us street art aficionados is Post’s summary of each art form’s history. Wheat-pasting or poster-bombing can be traced back to 2000 BCE when papyrus was used to create promotional posters and flyers — formerly called bills — in such places as ancient Arabia, China, Greece, Rome and Egypt.  And we learn that yarn bombing, an increasingly popular international mode of public guerrilla expression, originally started in Houston, Texas in 2005 by a woman named Magda Sayeg who went on to gather a crew, Knitta Please.

Illustrated by Matt Bonner and published by Laurence King Publishing, Bill Posters’ The Street Art Manual delights, informs and provokes. It also renews our faith in street art as a tool for progressive social change in these fragile times.

Released globally today, September 3, the book is available here.

Images courtesy Laurence King Publishing.

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First conceived in 2017 when Billy and Mernywernz curated a collaborative and immersive exhibition inspired by shrines they had seen in their travels, “The Shrineing” has continued its project with the publication of eight limited edition artist books.

One of eight books recently released by “The Shrining”  is Pink, a charming, beautifully curated selection of artworks by Berlin-based Argentine artist Caro Pepe.  Several more images from Pink follow:

Her signature one-eyed lady

Full-page collage of images

On the streets

The other booklets in “The Shrining’s” current project include:

Salt In The Caramel by DAVE THE CHIMP

Chairs & Stairs by BILLY

Lines & Metal by GLOTES

Wot Vargen #4 by MERNYWERNZ

Neukölln by PABLO BENZO 

Free As A Bird by BUE THE WARRIOR 

and Pictures Born In Chaos by BLO  (not pictured)

Images in the booklets range from studio shots and paintings to street art works and musings — from the cleverly comical to the sublimely solemn. All intrigue! And any can be purchased here.

Photos of images: 1 & 6 courtesy “The Shrineing”; 1, 3, 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky (from Pink)

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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A lover of words — both spoken and written — I’ve been a huge fan of Jay Shells’ (Jason Shelowitz’s) ambitious rap project from my first glimpse of his site-specific mural on Myrtle and Broadway several years ago. The recently released The Rap Quotes Coast to Coast — published by Dokument Press — is a photographic foray into Jay Shells’ brilliant urban interventions installed in several key cities from 2013-2018.  Accompanied with maps of site-specific rap lyrics, it is an homage to hip-hop, the spirit of the streets and to street art.

Traveling with photographer and award-winning videographer Aymann Ismail, Jay installed over 400 site-specific interventions. Largely displayed as street signs, the rap lyrics sometimes surfaced on billboards, bus stops, phone booth advertising takeovers and painted murals.

While the first segment of the book focuses on NYC — the birthplace of hip-hop in the early 80’s –The Rap Quotes Coast to Coast  also transports us to neighboring Philly, across the country to LA and then to Atlanta and Houston.

Providing a window into the psychology and cultural differences among the varied sites, the playfully poetic lyrics are witty and sly and— in the vein of rap — often hyperbolic. And offering further insights into it all, each city documented in The Rap Quotes Coast to Coast is introduced by a hip-hop journalist. 

The Rap Quotes Coast to Coast is widely available in bookstores and online and can be purchased here.

All photos courtesy Dokument Press; book review by Lois Stavsky

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Comprised of interviews with 17 American and European artists who use the stencil technique as their principal means of expression, STENCILISTS POCHOIRISTES, by art and culture enthusiast Serge Louis, has arrived in New York City! Featuring 444 pages and 273 illustrations, along with an introduction by stencil art connoisseur Samantha Longhi, it is Serge Louis’s second book devoted exclusively to stencil art. I recently had the opportunity to speak to Serge:

What spurred your interest in stencil art?

I’ve always been passionate about alternative forms of expression and how and why they surface. Why do folks create stencils? And how do they go about sharing them with others? And stencil art particularly appeals to me because it’s an ideal way to translate and share a message.

Yes. Stencils are quite an accessible means of communication. When did you begin working on this book?

I’ve been interested in stencil art for over a decade, and I had already published one book on the theme. Pochoirs et Pochoiristes à Bruxelles specifically focuses on Brussels’ rich stencil art scene. Three years ago, I began this book of interviews and images produced by artists in both America and in Europe.

Have you any early memories related to stencil art? Or any that stand out?

My earliest memory is of a very simple black and white one. Every stencil stands out in some way. Each one is something new. Each one is a surprise. Since I started paying attention to stencils, the way I view my environment has changed. Each city is distinct. And when I visit someplace new, I feel as though I’m on a “hunt.”

I can certainly relate to that! What were some of the challenges you encountered in producing this book?

The main challenge was convincing the artists to give me the time I needed to interview them in depth. Their time is precious, and they had to feel that taking the time to share their experiences was worthwhile and would interest others.

How can folks get a copy of STENCILISTS POCHOIRISTES?

Along with several of the artists, I will be at 212 Arts — 523 East 12th Street — on Saturday afternoon, June 1, and I will be signing copies of the book. You can also order the book through the publisher.

What’s ahead?

I’ve begun sorting through photos for my next book, and I have already interviewed six artists.

Good luck with it all! And Saturday’s book signing at 212 Arts is certainly a cause for celebration!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos courtesy of Serge Louis

  1. Cover of book featuring stencil art by those artists interviewed for STENCILISTS POCHOIRISTES:  Ben Spizz, Billi Kid, Crisp, Dave Lowell, Dipo, Docteur Bergman, ENX, Jaune, Jinks Kunst, Logan Hicks, Nice Art, Niz, Praxis, Raf Urban, Spencer, Stew and Tripel
  2. Austin, Texas-based Peruvian native Niz
  3. Brooklyn-based Colombian native Praxis
  4. New York-based Colombian native Billi Kid
  5. Austin, Texas-based Dave Lowell
  6. Brooklyn-based, Baltimore-raised Logan Hicks

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Since September 26, 57 Great Jones Street — the former home and studio of Al Diaz collaborator, Jean-Michel Basquiat — has been the site of Same Old Gallery, a multimedia exhibit showcasing Al Diaz ‘s masterful wordplay and inventive aesthetic. Curated by Adrian Wilson and Brian Shevlin, it features a diverse array of new work by Al Diaz, in addition to historic photos and memorabilia from back in the day when the SAMO© tag that he and Jean-Michel Basquiat had conceived was the talk of the town. Several photos I captured while visiting the space follow:

Mixed media with stencil art

Another contemplation on the brevity of it all

Mixed media musings

With a message for these times

The 1978 Village Voice article that reveals SAMO©’s identity

And this weekend marks the launch of Al Diaz‘s book with a signing and talk

Photos 1-6: Lois Stavsky

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The latest, soon-to-be-released edition of the street art coloring book series by Aimful Books, created by Diego Orlandini, features images of murals from the streets of Brooklyn, NYC’s Mecca of urban art.  Intent on contributing to educating children across the globe, Aimful Books matches every coloring book purchased with a free textbook to a school-age child. Its ultimate goal is to provide a million free textbooks to children by selling one million street art coloring books.

Deftly curated, The Brooklyn Coloring Book features the talents of over 40 artists who have shared their visions with us on the streets of Brooklyn. Among them are: Shiro, Chris RWK, Icy and Sot, Beau Stanton, Lady PinkAlice Mizrachi, Esteban del Valle and Denton Burrows.

And you can win a free copy of the $25.00 Brooklyn Coloring Book before it’s released to the public!

  • 76 premium pages
  • Perforated pages easy to detach to frame or gift your masterpieces
  • Spiral-bound for easy folding
  • 7.87 in x 7.87 in
  • Artworks of 48 world-class street artists
  • Full-color directory
  • Buy One Give One Initiative

For a chance to win a free copy, go to www.aimfulbooks.com/giveaway to participate in 10 seconds or less.

Images

  1. Shiro
  2. School children in Peru
  3. Chris RWK at work
  4. Shiro (L.) and Icy and Sot (R.)
  5. Coloring book cover

All images courtesy of the street art-loving, socially conscious Aimful Books

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A huge sticker fan, I first discovered iwillnot‘s stickers almost a decade ago while combing the streets of DC in search of striking street art. Soon afterwards, I met him and was struck by not only his outstanding aesthetic sensibility, but his huge passion for stickers and its wonderfully democratic collective culture.

In his recently released and hugely popular book, Smashed: The Art of the Sticker Combo, iwillnot shares not only his story, but provides us with tremendous insights into the entire sticker culture.

Intent on trading his stickers with other sticker artists, iwillnot had early on established a network of artists to exchange sticker packs. He was soon installing sticker combos in cities throughout the East Coast. And in 2011, he began to envision “smashing an art gallery in a major city with thousands and thousands of stickers.” Smashed: The Art of the Sticker Combo documents the realization of this dream.

With the support of street art enthusiast and Fridge Gallery founder and curator Alex Goldstein, iwillnot curated a 12.5 feet tall by 20 feet wide 10,000 sticker installation in 2013. By 2016, the entire gallery was smashed with hundreds of thousands of stickers, representing over 500 artists from 15 countries. The 2016 DC Street Sticker Expo reached over three million people.

With dozens of photographs documenting it all, Smashed: The Art of the Sticker Combo is certain to appeal to all of us sticker art fans and street art aficionados. The book can be purchased through Amazon or directly from the author here. And if you would like to participate in this year’s DC Street Sticker Expo, you still can!

All images courtesy iwillnotthe third image features — Foes, Mr Say, Skam, Sore Infest (top) RX Skulls, Obit, Who, and Ride (bottom); book reviewed by Lois Stavsky

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Brilliantly countering any claims that feminism is dead and that the Hip-Hop culture “is detrimental to women and girls,” Jessica Nydia Pabón-Colón has written an impeccably researched study of the grrls who have paved their way into the predominantly male graffiti culture, claiming their own space.

Based on interviews conducted with over 100 graffiti grrls across the globe over the span of 15 years, the author, now an Assistant Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at SUNY New Paltz, provides us with a window into the minds, practices and experiences of a wide range of female writers crossing cultures and generations.

Among the many assumptions and false claims female writers often have to contend with are that they are writing graffiti to get noticed by guys or doing it to make their boyfriends happy. Or that they aren’t writing at all; it’s their boyfriends who are doing it for them. Rumors, too, regarding their sexual promiscuity are rife.

And yet, for various reasons, many are reluctant to identify as “feminists,” a term too often associated with man-haters. Pabón-Colón relates how when she first asked the famed bomber, Miss 17, if she was a feminist, her immediate response was a brusque, “No.” Five years later – in 2009 – Miss 17  had tempered her views, largely due to the friendships that she had developed with the likes of Claw Money and the author, herself.

Throughout Graffiti Grrlz: Performing Feminism in the Hip Hop Diaspora, the author convincingly advances both feminism and graffiti as positive and vital social and political forces. Australian artist Ivey, for example, recounts the pride she feels on seeing her tag up and credits the graffiti culture with helping her get through difficult times and motivating her to pursue her education after graduating from high school.

Whether of not graffiti grrls identify themselves as feminists or perceive themselves as political, Pabon-Colon compellingly affirms that their “performances of feminist masculinity” merge the fundamental social, cultural and aesthetic aspects of Hip-Hop culture with the feminist movement

Published by New York University Press, Graffiti Grrlz is the first academic study on women’s participation within the graffiti subculture. Appended with examples of black book pages, comprehensive notes and an extensive bibliography. Pabón-Colón’s work is a rich tribute to the grrls whose voices are too often silenced and a gift to all of us who love graffiti, perhaps the most significant art movement of our time.

You can order the book directly from the author with a special discount here. And follow news of her readings and signings here.

Note: The third image features NYC native Abby and the final one features London-based Chock painting in the Bronx.

Images courtesy of the author; book review by Lois Stavsky

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