Graffiti

Two long walls along a parking lot on Těšnov Street in Prague’s New Town – the largest of Prague’s four historic districts — have long served as a legal open-air graffiti gallery. The crisply executed piece pictured above was painted by the prolific Every Tag Counts for the Montana Grafficon jam held earlier this fall. Several more images that I captured along the wall — while visiting Prague last week — follow:

To be identified

Spord UFO — painted for the Montana Grafficon jam 

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Turbo

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Photos: Lois Stavsky

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I recently had the opportunity to speak to BedStuy Walls Mural Festival founder and chief curator Miki Mu about the hugely successful community arts festival held earlier this month on Lexington Avenue and Do the Right Thing Way in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

This is all so wonderful. What was your initial inspiration for this project?

This is my neighborhood. I’ve lived in Bed-Stuy for over ten years. I was interested in celebrating and beautifying my neighborhood. And I know the huge power of art to uplift a community! I also wanted to create a space where people and businesses in my neighborhood could interact. My vision for this particular project began about a year ago.

How did you secure these walls? They are in such a prime spot, and these murals have totally transformed the entire block.

My neighbor introduced me to the owner of one of the the businesses on the block. But there were many challenges to actually securing these walls. It was not an easy task!

What were some of these challenges that you encountered in seeing this project through?

After I did secure the walls, I had to get a permit to close the block for the day of the festival. The walls and sidewalk had to be primed in advance. I had to purchase supplies. The entire project was quite expensive. I set up a Go Fund Me, but I did have to cover most of the expenses myself.

You have here such a wonderful range of artists here — from legendary graffiti writers to noted contemporary urban artists to newer emerging ones. How did you get the word out to the artists?

We started an Instagram account, and the word quickly spread. So many artists expressed interest in participating — far more than I could have imagined. I still get requests!

How did the community respond to the event?

The response was tremendous! The community loved it! Families came out, and there were so many kids…jumping rope, dancing to the hip-hop music, making art and simply having fun! It was wonderful — actually better than I had anticipated! But I never could have done this alone; there were many folks whose generosity made this possible. Among them are: Chateau Brooklyn for serving as our mothership, headquarters and base; Badman Bus aka Cookie Monster Bus for providing music and a sound system; all of the DJ’s for volunteering their talents; Cheryl Foy, a retired teacher and resident of the block, for helping us secure the block permit and Joe Cirano from Rogers & Sons, the owner of the walls; the Blue Bus Project for providing activities for the kids; Radial Park for lending us ladders; Project Barkada, also, for lending us a ladder and scaffolding; Solidarity Movers for helping us move all the equipment from one location to another  and for providing, as well, a fun activity for kids;  Black Men Build, Black Chef Movement and Josiane Lysius for providing free food; Loop Colors for adding extra cans to our order; Frankie Velez, my co-curator, for assisting and supporting my efforts in every aspect of this project, and, of course, all of the artists for generously sharing their skills and visions with us.

What’s ahead?

I would like to make the BedStuy Walls Mural Festival an annual event and eventually attain non-profit status.

That would be wonderful! Congratulations!

Images

1. Carlos Rodriguez

2. Jason Naylor

3. Chelsea Garcia to the left of Manuel Alejandro

4. Will Power

5. Belowkey

6. Andre Trenier to the left of Megan Olson and Olga Correa

7. Nac 143 (left), OG Millie (center),  Bom5 with character by Miki Mu (right)

Photo credits: Lois Stavsky

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Tracing the emergence of graffiti from an underground subculture into a legitimate profession, Duality: A Graffiti Story — directed by Ryan Dowling — focuses on the struggles and successes of five noted graffiti artists. In the Buffalo 8 documentary feature film, legendary writers Meres One, Dual, Sloke, Jaber and Never1959 share their challenges and ventures as they reflect on their personal journeys in this ever-evolving culture.

Many graffiti writers — who were initially deemed as vandals for their tagging and illegal interventions — now earn wide recognition and respect for their stirring murals that grace cities across the globe. Their aesthetics have made their way inside and outside a range of upscale properties from luxury hotels to major corporations — who court them to enhance the “coolness” of their brands.

Once working mainly clandestinely, these artists now foster community, as they share their talents openly with others — who are eager to learn from their skills or simply observe and photograph them as they paint. And as their artwork begins to blur the lines between graffiti, urban art and fine art, it also increasingly finds a home in galleries.

Among the film’s recurrent themes is the artists’ addiction to getting up and their deep love for graffiti. “I’ll probably never ever not want to write my name on something. It’s an addiction for sure,” states Dual. “It’s amazing that there’s that opportunity to bridge the gap from doing illegal graffiti to doing commercial work with big companies.”

Among the many highlights of Duality: A Graffiti Story is the account of the vast achievements and horrific demise of Long Island City’s 5Pointz— as related by its curator and founder Meres One and advocate Marie Cecile Flageul.

Several screenshots from the riveting documentary follow:

NYC-based Meres One, founder and curator of the iconic graffiti mecca 5Pointz — whose talents continue to make their way onto walls, huge canvases, lightbulbs and varied corporate settings.

On the site of citizenM New York Bowery hotel where Meres painted this stained glass-inspired piece

Houston, Texas-based Dual, best known for his wheat pastes — whose body of artwork includes everything from meticulously-made tape collages to sign painting to huge commissioned murals that beautify cities

Dual, The Rice Box River Oaks Mural

Austin, Texas native Sloke — who, in addition to painting, curating and mentoring youth — has produced murals for a range of companies including Apple, Facebook, Nike, Google, Red Bull and Time Warner

Sloke mentoring young man on the art of graffiti

West Coast-based Jaber (ala El Ninja Blanco) — who has been making his mark on the streets since the early 9o’s and now does — among other things — design for major fashion companies and film sets

Jaber, Along the tracks

Los Angeles-based Never1959 — who is best-known for his large scale murals on buildings around Los Angeles

Never‘s 50-foot high mural that parodies the 1958 Orson Welles film noir “Touch of Evil” 

The premiere of this splendid homage to graffiti will take place tomorrow, October 19th, in Austin, Texas. And beginning Oct. 21, it will be available on Amazon Prime, AppleTV/iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube movies.

And you can check out the trailer below:

All images courtesy Buffalo 8 

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From September 15 – 18, an all-female team of urban artists — local, national and global — brought their skills and visions to 49 Wyckoff Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

The stunning image featured above was fashioned collaboratively by project curator Herakut (pictured) and Miami-based Didi Contreras. Several select images — all captured by by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad — follow:

Brooklyn-based Lexi Bella, who assisted the project’s curation (top), and local, mixed-media artist Isabelle Ewing

New York-based interdisciplinary artist and educator Alice Mizrachi

The legendary Ecuadorian-American graffiti artist and muralist Lady Pink

London-based Spanish artist Lours

NYC-based graphic designer and muralist Queen Andrea

Brooklyn-based muralist and painter Danielle Mastrion

Bristol, UK-based artist HazardOne

Special thanks to Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad for documenting this project and sharing it with us

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In this fifth post of our new series, PUSHING IT FORWARD — featuring ILLicit creatives claiming space on NYC streets — our focus now is on those bombs and throws that have surfaced in Manhattan. The image above features the markings of Spray RBV and Goog, along with dozens of tags. Several more images recently captured on the streets of Manhattan — from Chinatown to Inwood — follow:

Fat Jay

Bat, Cope2, Poke, Ollin Crew, Say No Sleep & more on the Bowery Wall

Acet

Riot

House TOS and Rom89

Mae and Dip

Post and photos by the Pushing It Forward Collective

Note: We return to the borough of Queens in our next PUSHING IT FORWARD post

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For over two decades, Jersey City-based WOOLPUNK®  has been fashioning art that is at once visually captivating and socially stirring. Working largely with recycled textiles, found objects, photographs, and text-based imagery, she addresses such issues as environment endangerment, economic inequality and homelessness. Within the past year, her rich and inventive creations have made their way into a diverse range of sites including the World Trade Center, Bergdorf Goodman, and FIT’s Art and Design Gallery.

Currently on view at the Montclair Art Museum is WOOLPUNK®’s hugely impressive Sunflowers & Graffiti’d Sky in the Garden State. Based on a photograph of a community garden in Jersey City, the final production, 30 feet wide x 13 feet long, features recycled textiles on an embroidered photo. All of the materials used — clothing, fabric scraps and assorted textiles — were donated in response to the artist’s open call to the MAM community. And anything that wasn’t used was then donated to the Salvation Army.

Sunflowers & Graffiti’d Sky in the Garden State brilliantly brings attention to landfill waste that is comprised largely of clothing while questioning our penchant for the newest fashion trends. Featured above is the artist in front of her work. Several close-ups from Sunflowers & Graffiti’d Sky follow:

A small segment

The graffiti’d sky — which while beautiful, also “reminds us of the air-polluted sunsets”

More sunflowers

A closer look at the details

Sunflowers & Graffiti’d Sky in the Garden State remains on view through August 6, 2023. Located at 3 S Mountain Ave in Montclair, NJ, the Montclair Art Museum is open Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photos 1-4, Lois Stavsky; 5, Courtesy of the artist

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Brooklyn Art Haus aka BAH! — a new hugely impressive home for innovative artworks and events in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that will officially open in January — debuts tomorrow evening, September 9, from 6-9pm with RAWTHENTIC. Curated by Silvertuna Studios and Collect with Lulu, the premier exhibition and event features a diverse array of contemporary urban artworks by legendary artists Chris RWK, Al Diaz, de la Haba, Kit 17, Easy, Zimad and Nite Owl, along with video presentations — filmed by Silvertuna Studios — of the artists at work. Also on view will be the distinctly unique Vanderhall Carmel GTS custom-designed and hand-painted by the artists.

A small selection of images from the dynamic, brilliantly curated exhibition follows:

Chris RWK, “Built For This,” Mixed media on canvas, 24″ x 24″

Al Diaz, “For The Haters,”  Mixed media on wood, 24″ x 34″

Gregory de la Haba, Straight Red Threes, Oil, krink, and spray paint on printed canvas, 78″ x 44″

Kit 17, “Subway Days Burner,” Mixed media on canvas, 63″ X 113″

Easy, (Right)  Bronze & Gold Tag Cut Outs on Wood, 24″ x 24″ and below them, “Steel,” Mixed media on canvas, 48″ x 48″

Zimad,Area 51″, Mixed media on unstretched canvas, 83″ x 82″

And Nite Owl, pictured below with exhibition information —

The exhibition continues through September 16 from 1 pm to 5 pm. Private viewings are available by appointment. Guests can RSVP here.

Note: Be sure to check out the exhibition catalog for bios, prices and more!

Photos of artworks,  2-7,  Lois Stavsky

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Wildly passionate and distinctly knowledgeable about about sticker art, DC-based iwillnot has published two celebrated books and has curated five extraordinarily impressive expos on the theme. On my recent visit to DC, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to him and catch up a bit:

Since you first introduced me to the DC street art sticker scene about 14 years ago, your contributions to the culture have been enormous — expos, books, giveaways and more. What is it about stickers that appeal to you?

I love that they are a quick and easy way to get a message — or simply your name — out there.

Can you tell us something about your name — “iwillnot?”  When did you acquire it? And why did you choose it?

I began using iwillnot in 2009. It was a statement of defiance and opposition. I didn’t like what was happening around me. I could not support the direction DC was taking, particularly in terms of its gentrification. And I wasn’t happy with the way my neighborhood was evolving in the name of renovation and development.

You had been pasting, collecting and trading stickers for several years before you conceived of curating your first Street Sticker EXPO at The Fridge DC. What motivated you to launch such a huge project?

It was a natural progression. I, myself, already had amassed a huge collection, and I knew many active sticker artists out there. It was a way to share the art form that I love with so many others and to introduce these artists to a wider audience. Also, the streets in DC had become less hospitable to stickers.

How did you initially get the word out?  Over a thousand artists have participated in your Sticker Expos.

At first it was largely word-of-mouth. We were a pretty tight group, Skam, RWK, V0xx Romana…and more. And social media, mainly Instagram and my website, are essential to getting the word out.

Your most recent Street Sticker EXPO took place during the pandemic. Did that present any distinct challenges?

Yes. It was stressful. Among the challenges was receiving and opening packages of stickers while we were all concerned with becoming infected with COVID-19…Just storing the boxes until we opened them was problematic!

Your second book, Unsmashed, features over 1200 colored photographs of stand-alone stickers from artists across the globe. How did you select which stickers to include? 

I took one sticker from each pack that I had received for the 2020 Expo. Each of these stickers was then photographed by fellow sticker artist Cheer Up, who also did the layout and design for the book.  It evolved into the ideal field guide that can easily connect anyone to the sticker art community.

Yes! It is perfect! What’s ahead?

SMASHED 2.0 is underway. It will cover the last two EXPOs, the showings at the 2020 Outsider Art Fair and Tribeca Art Night in NYC, the execution of the collage portrait and the phenomenon of sticker shows around the world.

What about EXPOs? Any ahead?

In 2023, we will celebrate our 10-year anniversary.

Congratulations! I’m looking forward to that!

Note: Be sure to check out iwillnot’s website to purchase his books and assorted merchandise. And if you’d like to receive a free sticker pack, fill out the form on this page!

All photos courtesy iwillnot; photo 2 features El Toro and Chris RWK collaboration; photo 4 – a collaboration with Mr. Zimbro

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In this fourth post of our new series, PUSHING IT FORWARD — featuring ILLicit creatives claiming space on NYC streets — our focus now is on the streets of Staten Island. Widely overlooked by graffiti and street art aficionados, the blocks on and off Bay Street in Stapleton host an infectious range of both sanctioned and unsanctioned images fashioned by local artists and by those from neighboring boroughs. Featured above are the markings of the prolific Pöe. Several more photos of ILLicit public works recently captured in Staten Island follow:

Coe, KGB

Dechead

Par, NS

Over

Rik, Viloe and Osi

Poke

Post and photos by the Pushing It Forward Collective

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Currently on view at Underhill Walls in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn is a delightfully nostalgic trip down TV’s memory lane.  In the murals featured above, accolades are given to The Sopranos by Paolo Tolentino, while Subway Doodle honors Battlestar Galactica. Several more images from Underhill Walls‘ current iteration follow:

Multi-media artist Sage Gallon pays homage to “The Sonny and Cher Show” for its “talent and variety”

Painter and muralist Jessie Novik celebrates “I Love Lucy”

Artist and arts educator Carnivorous Flora recreates “The Partridge Family” as “little people with a bus rolling out the red carpet to Ukrainian refugees and welcoming them to NYC!”

Tattoo artist and designer DozenFingers Graphics celebrates the animated television series “Sonic the Hedgehog”

 Muralist and illustrator Miki Mu adds the final touches to her playful ode to “Sesame Street”

Visual artist and poet Android Oi — in collaboration with painter and illustrator Melissa Schainker — celebrates “Mork & Mindy,” (with project coordinator Jeff Beler standing to his right).

Founded and curated by Jeff Beler, Underhill Walls is a non-profit public art installation located at the corner of St. Johns Place and Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn,

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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