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Whether working in their studios or on the streets, NYC artists — like so many artists throughout the globe — continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The image featured above was fashioned by the superbly talented New York City/Bangkok-based artist Gongkan. Several more images created by NYC-based artists in response to the COVID-19 pandemic follow:

Sara Erenthal, Masked Feelings, Unmasked

Michael Alan, Uplifting the World

Adrian Wilson, A virtual urban intervention

Early Riser, Strong but Scared — with Jason Naylor on upper right

Ed Heck, Keeping Safe…Apart

Photo credits:  1-4 courtesy of the artists; 5-7 Ana Candelaria

Note: Be sure to check out WashYourHands.art, a fabulous Online Exclusive Group Exhibition — presented by Woodward Gallery — in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

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Organized by Ayana Ayo and coordinated by Kathleena Howie aka Lady K-Fever, Uptown Counts: Art as Activism is an exhibition of artworks by over 20 artists who lent their works to a range of uptown spaces to draw attention to the importance of the 2020 Census, particularly in East Harlem.

The number of East Harlem residents who respond to the 2020 Census will determine how much of the $675 billion in federal dollars the community will receive over the next 10 years — funding essential to schools, housing, healthcare, infrastructure and food assistance.  Yet, only 40 percent of East Harlem residents are predicted to respond to the 2020 Census.

Among the artists featured in the exhibit are several who also use the streets as their canvas.  The image above, “Mother and Child,” painted by East Harlem-resident Marthalicia Matarrita, has found a temporary home at the legendary Sylvia’s Restaurant. A small sampling of  images —  featured in Uptown Counts: Art as Activism —  by artists whose works also surface in public spaces follows:

 Danielle Mastrion, Offering — at Harlem Yoga Studio 

 Lady K-Fever, Justice at Last — at Sisters Caribbean Cuisine 

Royal KingBee, BEE Cautious

MED, Resist

Al Diaz, Flowers Will No Longer Grow…

Because of the pandemic, the spaces hosting the artwork are largely inaccessible for the next several weeks. But you can check out the entire exhibit — sponsored by the nonprofit organization Uptown Grand Central — online here.

And — now — be sure to take the 2020 Census!  It is a political and social justice issue. You can do it online, by phone (844-330-2020) or by mail.

Images and info for this post courtesy exhibition coordinator, Kathleena Howie aka Lady K-Fever

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As the the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact all of our lives, it has, also, begun to make a presence on NYC streets. Pictured above is the work of Jilly Ballistic — who emerged from the underground to address us — in collaboration with Adrian Wilson. Several more images sparked by the current pandemic follow:

The Act of Love, as seen in Soho

crkshnk pasted in Freemans Alley

Jason Naylor on the Lower East Side

Sara Erenthal on a repurposed drawer in Flatbush, Brooklyn

Photo credits: 1 & 4 Ana Candelaria; 2 & 3 Lois Stavsky 5  Sara Erenthal

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Curated and managed by Prospect Heights resident Jeff Beler, Underhill Walls, a model community-based mural art project, always delights. Earlier this month, while the streets were still somewhat occupied, I visited Underhill Walls‘ current installation, where over a dozen artists refashioned the covers of some of their favorite books. Featured above is the wonderfully talented Subway Doodle‘s rendition of Maurice Sendak’s classic, Where the Wild Things Are. Several more images that I captured follow:

Zero Productivity refashions A A Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” with Paolo Tolentino‘s rendition of Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants” to its right

Gotham Pro Arts Academy students in collaboration with Jeff Beler with some additional assistance from Paulie Nassar

Jaima does Dr. Seuss’s “Horton Hears a Who!”

Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo designs the Herman Melville classic “Moby Dick”

Manhattan-based artist and art teacher Marivel Mejia does Arthur Laurents’ “West Side Story”

Justin Winslow does Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City”

And Paulie Nassar designs the Harper Lee classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” 

Underhill Walls is located at the corner of St. Johns Place and Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Curious about the face behind the poetic, bright yellow stickers that have increasingly become part of NYC’s visual landscape, I was delighted to meet and speak to the beguiling My Life in Yellow.

We street art aficionados know you as My Life In Yellow. When was My Life in Yellow  born?

It was born ten years ago as the name of my blog when I first moved to New York.

Why Yellow?

I was always drawn to the color yellow. It was my grandmother’s favorite color. And when I was in college, my room was blue, while the room next to mine was yellow. The girl who dormed there was always happy, had yellow accessories and always wore the color yellow. The yellow room was so much more inviting and cheerful than mine that I soon began to surround myself with the color yellow.

When did you start slapping your stickers up on the street and why?

Several years ago, I met Thomas OKOK Gunnarsson aka TagsAndThrows. He introduced me to the street art/graffiti world. We walked around the city together as he photographed graffiti. One year later his friend, AllYouSeeIsCrimeInTheCity, a street art photographer based in Sweden, came on a visit to New York City. She gave me my first sticker and encouraged me to write on it. I was going through a difficult break-up at the time, so I wrote “Tell Him How You Feel” on a postal sticker. She slapped it for me in Soho.

What inspired you to keep making stickers and getting them up?

I started getting really positive feedback. And it was a kind of therapy for me as I was going through difficult times.  People started to reach out and say things like, “Now I know I’m not alone” and “Me too, omg — I feel this way.” I started to realize how similar we all are in our dark thoughts, what we don’t say out loud. That was the moment I felt, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Have you any particularly memorable street art experiences?

I spontaneously slapped a sticker on a bridge in Berlin. The sticker read. “Tell Him How You Feel.” A girl nearby noticed it and commented, “A lot of people jump off that bridge.” I hadn’t thought of that! Another time I slapped a sticker on the Manhattan Bridge that said, “It’ll Be Ok.”  I did not realize until afterwards that I had slapped it on a suicide/help call box!

Who are some of your favorite sticker artists?

MQ and Token. I appreciate how consistent they are. I see their stickers everywhere!

 

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Yes, I slap and I walk. And then when I revisit it, I feel like I’m visiting my child.

How has your street art evolved in the course of these these past five years?

Its intent and tone have stayed the same, but I also wheatpaste now. And I’ve painted directly onto walls–by myself and in collaboration with other artists.

What is your favorite piece that you’ve created?

That’s a tough one! “Once my lover, now my poem.” I find myself writing it a lot.

How long do you usually spend on each sticker?

It comes in spurts. I often write a whole bunch at one time. Sometimes it’s just spontaneous.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Don’t tell my boss, but I think about it all the time.

Have you exhibited your work?

Yes! I’ve exhibited in several local spaces. When I first met Sac Six a few years back. he encouraged me get up on canvas.  I still make little canvases — that look like my stickers — that I show and sell in exhibitions. I’ve also created works that don’t resemble my stickers at all. I was recently featured in the Phoenix Rising exhibit at the Gala on 129 Allen Street, where one of my pieces sold.

Where else have your stickers traveled, besides the streets here in NYC?

London, Paris, Trinidad, Sweden, Berlin, LA, Miami. All placers I’ve been to. I prefer to slap stickers myself. There’s something special about it. It’s nice when people offer to slap my stickers up in other places, but I don’t give them out.

You’ve also painted in sanctioned public projects. Do you prefer working legally or illegally?

There’s something magical about pasting stickers up. I like its randomness, but I also enjoy working legally.

How has your family responded to your work on the streets?

They’re entertained by it. My father exhibits his photography. My grandfather was an artist.

Did you ever study art in a formal setting?

No, I’m self taught. I have a BA in business and a degree in Fashion Design from Parsons.

What are some of your other interests?

Spoken word poetry. I’ve performed in various venues. And I recently curated an event to help raise money for the JED Foundation.

Where are you headed? Any recent projects?

I recently collaborated with street art photographer Ana Candelaria. Ana’s photos always make me so happy. I love how she captures my stickers out in the wild: weather-faded, slapped-over and scratched-off. I love her documentation of their deterioration. Her photos really speak to me and I’m looking forward to many more collaborations with Ana. I‘ve also just released a chapbook of my poetry, Despite it all.  Where am I headed? I’d like to travel the world, get on stages with my poetry, paint more murals and conduct workshops on the power of words.

That all sounds great! What do you see as the artist’s role in society?

To help people feel something.

Note: You can purchase My Life In Yellow‘s recently-released poetry book together with Ana Candelaria‘s photograph of her iconic sticker as a PHOTO PRINT & CHAPBOOK BUNDLE PRE-SALE here.

Interview conducted and edited for brevity by Lois Stavsky with Ana Candelaria

Photo credits: 1 (featuring Ana’s photograph) – 3, 6, (featuring My Life In Yellow‘ s collaboration with Androi 0i for Underhill Walls 7 & 9 Lois Stavsky; 4, 5, 8, 10 & 11 Ana Candelaria 

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First Street Green Art Park, one of my favorite spots in town, not only introduces me to a wide range of artists who are new to me, but also showcases works by those who’ve been making their mark on the streets for years. Featured above is a tribute mural to Koby Bryant and his daughter by the richly prolific Fumero. Several more images recently revisited in First Street Art Green Park follow:

The artist couple Bella Phame

Puerto Rico-based Deider Díaz aka ElektroTypes

Detroit-born, NYC-based RF3RD

Harlem-based Roycer aka Royce Bannon

Noted graffiti/street artist Hektad

The itinerant Ratchi with the masterful Cram Concepts

First Street Art Green Park is currently accepting proposals for murals to be installed early next month. Check here for specifics.

Photos of artworks: Lois Stavsky

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Since the January, 2013 death of West Coast graffiti icon and hip-hop ambassador, Salvador Lujan aka Lord BIZR68, an arts festival has taken place each year to keep his legacy alive. Dozens of first-rate aerosol artists convene to paint murals in his honor at an event organized by his sister, Serena Lujan.

Featured above is the work of veteran West Coast graffiti artist Dare — painted at the 7th annual Bizare Art Festival at Calwa Park in Fresno, California. Several more images — all captured by Bay Area’s Suitable 4 Framin’— follow:

Bay Area artist and musician KayTwo 

Bay Area artist Yoker One

Nuetron252 at work

Bay Area artist Hero

Bay Area artist Wzrd at work

Cre8 at work

West Coast muralist and designer Marcos LaFarga at work

And some tags

Photos:Suitable 4 Framin’

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Eight walls and three loading docks on the exterior of Yoho Studios have a brand-new look. Described by the artist as New Earth Hieroglyphs, the art brings Michael Cuomo’s distinctly abstract, black and white spiritual aesthetic into the public sphere. Upon viewing it, I had a few questions for Michael:

How did this wonderful opportunity to share your particular aesthetic in a public space come your way?

I was granted permission by Heights Real Estate and Yonkers Arts, an organization that has been promoting and encouraging artistic ventures in the City of Yonkers.

You are a master of many different styles and techniques. How did you decide on this particular composition?

I wanted to share the power of high vibrational frequency that these designs offer. I am honored to be able to present my artwork to the community on a main street, 578-540 Nepperhan Avenue, where thousands pass daily.

How have folks responded to it?

They love it. While I was painting, many stopped by to chat. Others honked their horns from their cars, and gave me a thumbs up! The response has been thoroughly positive.

You work mostly in your studio. What has it been like to change your working environment to an outdoor one?

I love working in both settings. But I love the interaction with others that best happens in public spaces.

How do you feel about the final product?

I’m enthralled!

What’s ahead?

In addition to my studio work, I’d love to find more opportunities to paint outdoors.

How can folks best contact you?

They can drop me an email at michaelcuomoart@gmail.com. Or they can send a direct message to my Instagram account.

Great! And we’re looking forward to seeing more of your work on the streets!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photos 1, 2 & 3 courtesy of the artist; 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky

Note: An earlier version of this interview — with additional photos by Fawn Phillips — first appeared here.

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The following post is by Street Art NYC contributor Ana Candelaria

This past Friday, I had the honor of interviewing the legendary Ron English at the release party of Big Poppa classic colorway, a designer toy created by Ron English in partnership with Beacon-based Clutter. Limited to just 75 pieces worldwide, this historic drop featured a limited edition run of 10 Crystal Big Poppa classic sweater designer toys, hand embellished with 4,130 Swarovski crystals. Fans had the opportunity to meet Ron English, view and purchase Big Poppa, and pick up an exclusive collectible can from Kings County Brewers Collective.

Can you tell us something about the birth of Big Poppa?

Here’s a little secret! My character MC Supersized was a bit based of him! Biggie was still around at the time. It was in the late 80’s.

How long did it take to create Big Poppa? 

It took about two years from starting to sculpt to this final product. And that’s good for these things!

What inspired you to create Big Poppa?

Awhile back during a screening of my movie POPaganda, one guy in the audience got up and said, “We watch this movie and we know everything you hate. What do you like?” And I thought I should shout out a few things that I actually like — like puppies and Big Poppa!

What does your new character represent?

For me, he just represents inner joy and happiness. Being at ease with yourself, enough so that you can create without even trying, or at least seeming that you are not even trying. That effortless kind of thing!

How much of your art, would you say, is political? 

Probably — in some way or another — all of it; and — in other ways — really none of it. Most political things kind of come and go very quickly, or they become irrelevant. I actually try to create things that will have a relevance in a thousand years. If anyone will want to know what it actually felt like to live right now, I’m your guy!

Do you want your viewers to walk away with a message of any kind? 

I really want to create a feeling or a vibe that will infect your spirit and hopefully you go away a bit happier. You know…being able to enjoy life a little bit more.

What’s next? 

We just left a recording studio, where we were finishing up our new record called, We Are The New They.

Awesome! What kind of music is it?

The vibe is very modern.  I’m influenced by The Beatles and early rap, so I just put it all in there.  I’m working with some of the most talented people out there. And the great thing is because they’re all playing different characters, they embody all different styles!

Do you, yourself, listen to music when you’re creating? Does it inspire you?

Actually, no! When I create, I’m in a very deep state of concentration. Music could be playing, and somebody could be shooting a puppy, and I would be totally unaware!

Interview withRon English conducted by Ana Candelaria and edited for brevity by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4-6 Ana Candelaria; 3 courtesy Clutter

Note: Photo two features UK-based toy designer and street artist Czee 13 to the right of Ron English

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Featuring a superlative documentation of NYC’s golden age of graffitiHenry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987 remains on view at the Bronx Museum through March 8With his remarkable eye, vision and passion, the award-winning visual anthropologist Henry Chalfant captured a culture that has since evolved into a global phenomenon impacting the entire art establishment. Featured above is Henry Chalfant, as seen at the Bronx Museum several days after the exhibit’s official opening. What follows are several more photos — some captured at the September 25 2019 opening by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad — and others as seen on subsequent visits.

 Documentation of graffiti on NYC subway trains

Re-creation of Futura graffiti on subway train, 1980

Henry Chalfant — with Bio, Tats Cru to his right — as captured on opening night

Recreation of Henry Chalfant,‘s early studio featuring Tats Cru, Tracy 168 and more

John “Crash” Matos with noted graffiti documentarian and author Jim Prigoff  to his right — as captured on opening night

Martha Cooper — with camera in hand on opening night — turns her lens on Bgirl Rokafella, Jose Parla, Jerry MazeJorge Fabel Pabon and DJ KaySlay 

More photos of trains with quote by Carlos Mare aka Mare 139 to their left: “We may have lost the trains, but we’ve gained the whole world.”

The Bronx Museum is located at 1040 Grand Concourse and is easily accessible by the B, D and 4 trains. Visiting hours for this “must see” exhibit are: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm and Friday, 11:00 am – 8:00 pm.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4, 6 & 7 Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad;  3, 5 & 8 Lois Stavsky

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