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To turn the page is to progress. It is often difficult, though, to turn a page. Each page  — as is each new day — is a fresh start that holds uncertainties. Eventually, the page must turn, no matter how long we take to reflect on it. And in Beirut, a city plagued by tragedy, poverty, economic crisis and corruption, we’ve learned how to turn the page and move forward.

The work pictured here, Turning the Page – قلبة الصفحة – is how three artists — Spaz, Kabrit and Exist — are moving forward in collaboration with the nonprofit organization Beitelbaraka to renovate Geitewe, a neighborhood that had been devastated by Beirut’s 2020 massive explosion.

Beirut-based Spaz

Lebanese artist Kabrit

Beirut-based graffiti artist and graphic designer Exist 

Exist, detail

Special thanks to Spaz for this post

Photos by Lebanese photographer Ihab Fayad 

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In celebration of Earth Day, National Geographic has partnered with ABC Owned Television Stations (OTV) and local artists in four major cities to fashion murals centered on four themes: wildlife, the Amazon, forests and oceans. All of the murals have been inspired by photos from National Geographic’s archive.

The image featured above was painted here in NYC by Brooklyn-based muralist and illustrator Steffi Lynn. Several more images of environmentally-conscious murals that have surfaced this month in collaboration with National Geographic follow:

A close-up from the NYC mural — fashioned by Steffi Lynn — located at 573 Johnson Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Philadelphia-based muralist and multimedia artist Eurhi Jones in partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia

Philadelphia-based Eurhi Jones with a close-up of her mural located at the Overbrook Environmental Education Center

The prolific Chicago-based self-taught street artist Sentrock at work

 A wide view of Sentrock and his mural located at ABC Chicago station’s building façade at 190 N State Street

 San Francisco-based illustrator and muralist Alice Lee in partnership with Paint the Void adds the final touches to her mural

Alice Lee with her completed mural, located at the intersection of Divisadero and Haight streets

Featured photos courtesy of National Geographic’s #NatGeoPlanetPossible project

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Masterfully fusing his distinct calligraphy with motley symbols, Lower East Side native Angel Ortiz aka LA II has been making his mark on the streets, in galleries and in museums for decades.  Best known for his collaborations with the late Keith Haring in the 80’s, LA’s current exhibition, Walking the Line, at Van Der Plas Gallery is a testament to the artist’s infectious aesthetic that impacted Haring and continues to captivate.

The image featured above, The Ultimate Masterpiece, was fashioned in 2022 with acrylic and marker on canvas. Several more images of artworks captured on my recent visit to the gallery follow:

Black and White Tondo, 2022, Spray paint and marker on canvas, 10″ x 10″

Vase, Sculpture

The Grand Master Tondo, 2021, Spray paint and marker on canvas, 10″ x 10″

Yellow on Blue, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 57″ x 57″

Three Triangles, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 40″

LA Crown, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 24″

Located at 156 Orchard Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Van Der Plas Gallery is open daily from 12pm – 5pm.

Note: You can check out the interview I conducted with Angel back in 2014 here.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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In late fall, the fiercely independent and inventive multimedia artist Robert Janz died at the age of 88. Since moving to Tribeca several decades ago, he had transformed his neighboring streets into an unconventional open air gallery. Intent on enriching our awareness and appreciation of the ephemeral with his artworks and poems, he quietly raged against consumerism, greed, egotism and human defilement of the environment.

Earlier this year, photographer and artist Allan Molho graced Duane Street — just several steps from where Robert Janz had lived — with the installation pictured above in his honor. What follows is an interview with Allan, along with photos of Robert Janz‘s work that Allan Molho had captured.

When did you first encounter Robert Janz‘s distinct aesthetic in a public space?

Back in 2011, I discovered images of mountains and birds over ads on a construction site.

What initially attracted you to Janz‘s work?

I was attracted to its subversive nature. I liked that Janz wasn’t selling a product. There was nothing commercial about his work. It was pure communication. In addition to ripping up ads to repurpose them as flowers or birds, he also left poems on  walls.

You were obviously inspired by him.

Yes, he certainly inspired me He had a serene belief in his work and in his creativity. And as an artist, I know how important this is. I’m also inspired by his resolve to continue getting his message out in public spaces until his late 80’s.

What spurred you to photograph Janz‘s work throughout the past decade?

I wanted to share it with other folks. Janz was a great artist, and his ideas are important. He was unique in many ways.

And what inspired you to install this memorial to him on Duane Street?

Because of the ephemeral nature of Janz‘s public art in this neighborhood, I want to keep his memory alive. It is important that he be remembered.

Have you crafted any other public installations that pay tribute to others?

Yes. Among those whom I’ve honored in public spaces are: Michael Stewart, Timothy Caughman and Covid 19 doctors.

Note: Be sure to check out Allan Molho‘s website — www.memorialsnewyork.com, — for an ongoing documentation of  NYC memorials, tributes and commemorations.

Photos: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2-6 Allan Molho

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For close to three decades, Woodward Gallery has been enriching Manhattan’s Lower East Side with wonderfully enticing exhibitions and public art projects. On view through March at its 132A Eldridge Street space is New In 22 featuring strikingly expressive new works by 14 contemporary artists in a range of media. And among these artists are many who also share their talents in public spaces. A selection of images by these artists — whose particular aesthetics often blur the line between urban and fine art — follow:

NYC-born and based Puerto Rican mixed-media artist Jose Baez, “Visionary King,” 2021, Mixed media collage, spray paint, oil and acrylic on canvas (including found objects and materials)

New Jersey-based Hungarian-American urban folk artist RH DOAZ, “Always Inhabit Your Space 6,” 2021, Aerosol spray paint, oil, wood stain on reclaimed pine

The legendary Brooklyn-based artist Moody, “Alternating Portals,” 2022, Acrylic on wood panel

 Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist DM Weeks,Fight or Flight,” 2021, Acrylic, spray paint, and oil on canvas

Brooklyn-born, Dallas-based artist JM Rizzi, “Verbal Stick Up,” 2021, Mixed media on canvas NYC-based multidisciplinary artist Matt Siren,The Tragedy of Time and Space, 2022,” Hand painted with acrylic and glitter embellishments on wood panels

Hudson Valley-based neo-expressionist artist Cosbe, Soft Spot, 2022, Acrylic and mixed media on acrylic panel

Also on view in New In 22 is a wonderfully eclectic range of strong works by: Susan Breen, Tommy Flynn, Sabina Forbes II, Val Kilmer, Margaret Morrison, Alex Racine and Daniel Rosenbaum.

You can visit New In 22 in person at Woodward Gallery‘s street level exhibition windows 24/7. You can also see it online on WoodwardGallery.net, on Artsy.net and on the virtual Artsy Viewing Room.  A full color digital catalogue is available for free here and softcover catalogue is available to order here.

Images courtesy Woodward Gallery

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The following post is by Newark-based arts educator, writer and photographer Rachel Alban

I returned this past Saturday to the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ to revisit On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey which remains on view through this Sunday, February 27. Curated by Lois Stavsky with my assistance, it is “the first museum exhibition to examine the duality of New Jersey artists whose creative versatility extends from the street to the studio.”

Working with Lois on this exhibit was meaningful on so many levels. It gave me the opportunity to connect with artists throughout NJ after a year of living almost entirely virtually. And introducing some of our favorite artists to new audiences and presenting them in such an elegant setting was especially wonderful.

The above photograph featuring a couple viewing a detail of Rorshach‘s huge mural was taken this past Saturday. Several more photos follow — some captured this past weekend, and others as far back as late summer.

Flemington-based artist James Kelewae aka Luv One to the left of the Newark-based duo Rorshach

Jersey City native Will Power, segment of his mural “1984,” a throwback to his childhood

Multidisciplinary artist Clarence Rich to the left of Jersey City-based Emilio Florentine

Newark-based Layqa Nuna Yawar painting the US golden dollar coin depicting a representation of Sacagawea and her son

The late Newark-based legendary multidisciplinary artist Jerry Gant, a segment of a special installation of his works

Jersey City-based Mr Mustart’s strikingly intriguing mural captures this visitor

Noted stencil master Joe Iurato to the left of Jersey City-based artist and arts educator Catherine Hart

New Brunswick native RH Doaz with a glimpse of Catherine’s mural

Located at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown, NJ, the Morris Museum is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11:00AM to 5:00PM. Just a few more days remain to check out On and Off the Streets: Urban Art Jersey

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Joseph Robert Foundation and Loop Colors.

Photos: Rachel Alban

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In both public and private spaces, Flemington, NJ-based artist James Kelewae aka Luv One fashions mesmerizing images that blur the line between graffiti and fine art. His distinct talents remain on view in  On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey. While selecting artists to feature in the exhibit, I met up with James in Trenton, NJ and had the opportunity to interview him:

When and where did you first get up?

I first hit a public surface back in 1995 while skateboarding in the Chicago suburbs where I grew up. I was 17 at the time. But it wasn’t until much later, 2006, when I became serious about painting on city walls.

Had you any preferred surface back then?

Brick. I liked the way it absorbs paint. I also liked getting up on trains with oil sticks.

Did anyone or anything in particular inspire you at the time?

The thrill of breaking rules. I liked the rush that I got.

Do any early graffiti-related memories come to mind?

In 2007, Will Kasso and I painted a two-block wall along the main bridge in Trenton. We painted in daylight pretending we had permission. It was so much fun!

Do you or did you belong to any crews?

I was a co-founder of the SAGE Coalition, a diverse group of artists dedicated to planning and producing inner-city beautification projects. And I’ve painted with Trenton’s Vicious Stylez Crew .

Would you rather work alone or collaborate with others?

It’s more fun with others, and you can accomplish more. But egos often get in the way.

Is there anyone in particular with whom you’d like to collaborate?

I’d like to collaborate with Cern, Chor Boogie, Other and José Parlá.

Have you any thoughts about the street art/graffiti divide?

I’m interested in bridging the gap.  I use mostly spray paint, a graffiti tool, in a street art aesthetic. But each is entitled to its own voice.

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

I have mixed feelings. On one hand, it dilutes the culture, but graffiti and street artists should get acknowledged for their hugely influential work by a broader audience.

What about the corporate world? How do you feel about street artists and writers collaborating with corporations?

The work that I did for Vonage helped me make the down payment to the house I now own. Depending on the corporation and the circumstances, the experience can be a positive one.

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

I don’t like it. I’d rather spend my time creating art.

Have you a formal art education?

Yes! I graduated from SVA with a degree in Illustration.

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

Outdoors.

What inspires you these days?

All the visual information that’s around me. I take in everything!

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Celtic art…its colors and patterns; the Book of Kells, medieval art, hip-hop, skateboarding and punk rock.

That’s quite eclectic. Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

Interconnectivity…building bridges…moments of intersection and overlap.

Do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

I find myself working more and more freehand.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? And how do you know when it’s finished?

I always want my next piece to be better than my last. I know when it’s finished when I’m sick of it.

How important are others’ reactions to you?

Ten years ago, I was super concerned about others’ responses to my work. Currently, they are not important at all.

How has your work evolved through the years?

My style was originally very illustrative. I focused initially on portraits. These days my style is largely abstract.

Have you any preferred colors?

I love them all.

What media do you currently most enjoy working with?

Mixed media and spray paint.

How has the work you’ve done on the streets impacted your studio work?

It’s my studio work that has most impacted my street art. It’s tightened my art on the streets. My street art is calmer than it used to be.

How does the subject matter differ?

When I paint on the streets, it’s important that I take the community and the site into consideration. It’s important that it be accessible. My studio work is largely personal.

How has your studio work evolved in the past several years?

It’s more spiritual in its sensibility and its theme.

How long do you generally spend on a studio piece? On a street art work?

I work on my studio pieces over time – a few hours at a time over a period of a few months. When I paint outside, it’s generally for 4-5 hours a day over five days.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

It’s always in my brain, but because of family responsibilities, I can only devote about 40% to it.

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

It is to challenge one’s perception of accepted norms. It is to reshape society. To share the human experience…to bear witness and to capture a moment in time.

What’s ahead?

More canvas work.

Good luck!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1 Sara C Mozeson; 2, 4, 6 & 7 Courtesy of James Kelewae; 3, 5, & 9 Lois Stavsky 8 & 10 Rachel Alban

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Roycer and Matt Siren — two of my favorite native New York artists — have been making their mark on the streets of my city for as long as I can remember. It is always a treat to view their playfully alluring works in gallery settings, as well. And for the next few weeks, a range of their artworks continues to be on view at ilon Art Gallery in Harlem.

The title image featured above was painted with acrylic on canvas by Roycer in 2021. Several more images of artworks showcased in the exhibition by both artists follow:

Matt Siren, Diamond Dust, 2021, Acrylic screen print

Roycer, Garcon de Feur pt 3, 2021, Acrylic on canvas

Matt Siren, 25 Cents, 2021, Mixed media

Roycer, Other Worlds, 2021, Acrylic on canvas

Matt Siren, Planet XXX, 2021, Acrylic on canvas

Roycer and Matt Siren collaboration, Untitled, 2021, Acrylic on canvas

Open most afternoons, ilon Art Gallery is located at 204 West 123rd Street in the heart of Harlem. To schedule a visit, contact: Loni Efron at loni@ilon.com or 917-270-4696.

And for an opportunity to learn the basics of  NFTs and for early access to NFTs by Matt Siren and Roycer, be sure to check out the following workshop, hosted by ilon Art Gallery director Loni Efron and led by Georgia Andre.

DATE: Wednesday, February 9th
TIME: 7pm
LOCATION: Zoom 

Photo credits: 1-3, 5-7 Lois Stavsky; 4 and 8 courtesy ilon Art Gallery

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Third-generation New Brunswick native RH Doaz fuses folk art imagery — inspired by Hungarian folk art patterns — with the aesthetics of street art to create beautifully crafted, poetic images both on the streets and in his studio. I was delighted to feature his work in  On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey, a group exhibition of NJ-based artists that continues through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey. A brief interview with him follows:

When and where did you first get up?

In the late 1990’s – with stickers and tags in New Brunswick and in NYC.

Had you any preferred surface back then?

The backs of street signs. That was always the best! Newspaper boxes. Anything with a surface that I could stick something onto that would stay up!

Did anyone or anything in particular inspire you at the time?

Yes! Among my early inspirations were: the handmade posters I saw in New Brunswick advertising basement shows; Shepard Fairey’s Andre the Giant image, and the simplicity of Michael DeFeo’s flower image.

Do any early graffiti-related memories come to mind?

Taking the NE Corridor train into Manhattan and seeing different graffiti crews at every stop.

Have you any thoughts about the street art/graffiti divide?

They’re two mediums competing for real estate. Graffiti always wins!

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

The more people who see your art, the better!

What about the corporate world? How do you feel about street artists and writers collaborating with corporations?

As long as the artist is given full credit, I don’t have a problem with it.

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

It allows me to connect with other artists, and that helps me feed my kids.

Have you a formal art education?

Yes. I minored in Art at Defiance College, located in northwest Ohio.

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

Any huge outdoor wall in October.

What inspires you these days?

Nature, folk art, nostalgia….

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Skateboarding, Hungarian, folk art, punk rock and hip-hop.

Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

Telling stories that haven’t yet been told through folk art.

Do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

These days I usually do have a sketch-in-hand.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? And how do you know when it’s finished?

Absolutely! I know I’m finished when there’s no more space left. The pattern feels complete. I’ve reached the sense of saturation where nothing needs to be added.

How important are others’ reactions to you?

I’m honored when others like my work. I like knowing what others think. I feel like I need to know.

How has your work evolved through the years?

I’m better at storytelling, and my patterns and palette are more refined.

Have you any preferred colors?

As I’m color-blind, I need to work with colors that strongly contrast one another with bold black outlines.

What media do you currently most enjoy working with?

Aerosol.

How has the work you’ve done on the streets impacted your studio work?

I’m more willing to experiment with patterns and palates on the streets, and this experimentation has impacted my studio work.

How long do you generally spend on a studio piece? On a street art work?

I spend anywhere between 5-10 hours on a piece I do in my studio. An outdoor mural generally takes about 60 hours, 6-7 10-hour days.

How important is it to you to maintain a presence in the public sphere?

It’s everything!

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

It is to tell visual stories that no one else is telling. Our most beautiful aspect is our aesthetic expression.

Note: You can view RH Doaz‘s talents in  On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey and at Woodward Gallery‘s current exhibition New in 22.

Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky

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While many of us were pondering the world’s fragile state in the early months of the pandemic, the brilliantly inventive and socially conscious Spanish artist Pejac was busy creating art in response to it. And this past fall, he shared his vision in APENA, a ten-day exposition held in a former train manufacturing site in Berlin. Over 40 new artworks — addressing such themes as environmental pollution, climate change, the refugee crisis and inequality —  were displayed in eight different rooms and spaces. Several play on classical paintings; all are at once poetic and unsettling,

The image featured above, “Counterweight,” was fashioned in 2020 with oil, acrylic and spray paint and mounted on a wooden stretcher. Several more images of Pejac‘s artworks — all painted since the early days of the pandemic — follow:

“Urban Albatross,”  Oil, acrylic, spray paint and charcoal on paper mounted on wooden stretcher

“H20,”  Charcoal, Pencil, conté, and gold leaf on paper mounted on wooden stretcher

“Bad Time for Lyrics,”  Brass, bronze and wood

“Swirling,” Oil, acrylic and spray paint on paper mounted on wooden stretcher

“Oppressed IV,” close-up; Chalk and pencil on paper

And you can view the remarkable APNEA Exhibition here:

All images courtesy Majka Tkacik – Project Manager, Suben Art

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