Public Art Projects

Active on both the streets and in his studio, Will Power fashions stylishly seductive images, often fusing elements of  graffiti, street art and fine art. His talents can now be viewed not only on the streets of his native New Jersey and throughout NYC, but in  the group exhibition, On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey, that continues through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey. While selecting studio works to feature in the exhibition, I had the opportunity to interview Will.

When and where did you first get up?

I first got up in 1983. And about a year later I did my first character, a devil. In 1985, I hit the White Castle on Journal Square. No one had ever hit that wall before. I was 14 at the time.

Had you any preferred surface back then?

Any place visible.

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

The movie Style Wars. It came out in 1983.

Do any early graffiti-related memories come to mind?

Racking up cans and bombing the bathrooms in Dickinson High School. The entire building was covered with graffiti.

Were you ever arrested?

Never! I knew what I was doing. I knew when and where to do it.

Did you belong to any crews back then?

A few. TFK (The Fresh Kingdom); KOC (Kings of Cremation) and MOB (Masters of Bombing).

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I’d rather work alone. Often when I collaborate, I feel as though I’m carrying the other person. The exception is Albertus Joseph. We began collaborating in 2018, and we’ve developed our distinct aesthetic that we call “Gritty City Styles.”

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

The Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo. I’d like to paint graffiti-style over his Sistine Chapel.

Have you any thoughts about the street art/graffiti divide? You certainly bridge the two.

The line is getting thinner and thinner. The problem is that street artists and graffiti writers don’t really get to talk to each other. The writers feel that the street artists are doing it for the money. But our motivation is really the same. We love what we do, and we have fun doing it!

What about the street art scene here in New Jersey? Any thoughts about it?

We need a “scene!” There are not enough legal walls and it’s all too cliquish. And I’d like to see the state do more to promote local artists.

Street artists are increasingly collaborating with the corporate world. Have you any feelings about that partnership?

That depends on the circumstances, the particular product and the way it’s being represented.

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

I feel good about it. Graffiti and street art should be moving into galleries and museums. It’s the logical progression.

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

It’s in my home. I find a space to paint in my house, and it becomes my studio and my sanctuary.

Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m self-taught. Graffiti was my teacher.

What inspires you these days?

My main sources of inspiration are: hip-hop, iconography, God and the Bible.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

I lived with my mother’s family in Thailand for three years from about 4-7. I vividly remember the detailed, decorative repetitive patterns and the classic spiritual beauty of the Buddhist temples. And I spent six months with my stepfather’s family in Egypt after I graduated from high school. There was gold everywhere! That’s what stands out. But the hip-hop culture has always been my main influence.

Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

Hip-hop and spirituality.

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

Mostly, I don’t. But for commissions, I sometimes have to.

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

I am satisfied with it. I know it’s finished when it feels balanced.

How important are other’s reactions to you?

On my studio work, they’re not important. But when I paint outside, it’s for the people. And then it matters.

How has your work evolved through the years?

It began with tagging and bombing the streets, and now it’s working on canvas fusing elements of graffiti, urban art and fine art.

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

The media I use are largely the same ones I use on the streets: spray paint, wheatpastes, stencils and charcoal. But I’ve also begun working more and more with oil paint and oil sticks in the studio.

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

I’m definitely taking more chances, and my tones are often more subtle. And working with oil paint adds a classical element to it.

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

I spend, on the average, of about three months on a studio piece, and anywhere from 4-6 hours on a work on the streets.

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

My role is to share my God-given talents with others.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

I’d have to say all of it, because even at my day job – my main source of income – I paint in my head.

Note: Will Power‘s work remains on view through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ and for the next several weeks, you may even find him collaborating with the legendary Al Diaz at First Street Green Art Park.

Interview by Lois Stavsky

Photos feature Will Power‘s studio and street art in various indoor and outdoor venues. Images 3 & 8 in collaboration with fellow Ex-Vandals member, Albertus Joseph

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The murals that surface at First Street Green Art Park — under the curatorial direction of Jonathan Neville — continue to represent an intriguingly diverse range of artists with varied sensibilities and styles. The image featured above was recently painted by the wonderfully talented Colombian artist Toxicómano Callejero, whom I had first met in Bogota over a decade ago. What follows are several more murals that have made their way to First Street Green Art Park since this past spring:

Colombian artists Erre and Praxis

NYC-based Chris RWK in collaboration with Nite Owl

Fumero with an optimistic message

Miami-based Chilean artist Claudio Picasso aka CP WON

Mexican artist Victor “MARKA27” Quinonez

Ratchi in collaboration with Cram

First Street Green Art Park is located between Houston and First Street off the F train’s Second Avenue stop.

Photo credits: Sara C Mozeson, 1, 2 & 7; Lois Stavsky, 3 – 6

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Since we had last visited Welling Court back in late spring, a number of new murals have surfaced in this hugely popular Astoria, Queens-based mural project. The image pictured above was painted by the legendary NYC-based artist Chris “Daze” Ellis, who had first made his mark on NYC subway trains in the mid-70’s. Other recent artworks follow:

Designer and co-creator of the You Are Not Alone mural project Annica Lydenberg aka Dirty Bandits,

Bronx-based graffiti pioneer John “Crash” Matos and NJ-based stencil master Joe Iurato

Ecuadorian multidisciplinary artist Toofly

Brooklyn-born and Dallas-based abstract artist James Rizzi aka JMR

NYC-based designer, typographer and muralist Queen Andrea

NYC-based painter and designer Dennis Bauser aka SINNED  with his partner Maria Bauser aka Ria

Photo credits: 1-4 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 5 & 7 Sara C. Mozeson

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The first BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival, an all Black-produced event, took place from July 24th through the 31st in Detroit, Michigan. It was founded by Sydney G. James of Detroit, Thomas “Detour” Evans of Denver and Max Sansing of Chicago in response to their past experiences of participating in mural festivals where there had been a lack of racial diversity among the participating artists and too many expenses incurred by the artists themselves.

Each of the artists participating in the inaugural BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival was provided with a fee for painting, as well as free lodging, meals and transportation. In addition to live mural painting, the inaugural festival hosted artist talks, panel discussions and pop-up exhibitions.

The image featured above was fashioned by Detroit-bred and based visual artist Sydney G. James. Several more murals that surfaced last month at the BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival — all captured by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad — follow:

Nepali artist Sneha Shrestha aka IMAGINE

Chicago-based Max Sansing and Roxbury, Boston native Rob Gibbs aka Problak

West Coast born and bred Jamaican-American artist “JUST” Giovannie 

Bay Area based artist and singer Zoë Boston

Mexican artist Victor “MARKA27” Quinonez  at work

West Coast-based, self-taught artist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith aka Wolfe Pack

Photos: Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad 

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Under the curatorial eye of Jeff Beler, Vanderbilt Avenue — between  Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street — has been transformed into an oasis of color and positivity. The delightful image featured above was painted by Brooklyn-based artist Jaima. Several more artworks that have recently surfaced on the block’s barriers follow:

Artist and designer Jason Naylor

Multimedia artist Subway Doodle

Muralist and designer Majo Barajas aka Majo San and Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo

New Jersey-bred, NYC-based artist and designer Marco Santini

Artist and graphic designer Zero Productivity

Muralist and illustrator Miki Mu with some great advice–

Included, too, in this project are the talents of  Vince Ballentine, Raddington Falls and Steph Motta. And a particular highlight is the community mural designed by Miki Mu and completed this past Saturday by neighborhood children.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Curated by Woodward Gallery, several intriguing newly-painted shutter gates have surfaced on Broome and Eldridge Streets on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  The image featured above was painted by Brooklyn-born neo-contemporary artist, JM Rizzi also known as JMR.  More images of these recently refashioned gates follow:

Another by JM Rizzi also known as JMR

Ecuadorian artist Lasak

NYC-based Jose Baez

Illustrator and painter Jen “PROPS” Larkin

Hudson Valley-based self-taught artist Cosbe

Additional images of these gates, along with another painted by David Weeks, can be seen here. And a perfect time to check them all out, along with Michael Alan’s wondrous 30 foot mural, is this coming Sunday’s block party hosted by Kehila Kedosha Jahina Synagogue and Museum from 12-4om  at 280 Broome Street, off Eldridge.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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The Grandscale Mural Project returned to East Harlem this summer bringing dozens of alluring new murals to East 125th Street.  Featuring a huge range of  themes and styles, the project showcases works by both established and emerging artists. The intriguing image pictured above, A Walk to Freedom, was painted by NYC-based Baltimore native Mark West as a visual ode to those slaves who risked their lives or died in their struggle to attain freedom. Several more images of newly surfaced walls follow:

Harlem-based Marthalicia Marthalicia

East Harlem-based Scratch

Brooklyn-based Jason Naylor

The legendary Bronx-based John Matos aka Crash One captured at work earlier this month

Luis F Perez and Fausto Manuel Ramos of Lost Breed Culture

Bronx-born, Yonkers-based Michael Cuomo

Keep posted to our Instagram page, as there are many more murals from the Grandscale Mural Project waiting to be captured!

Photo credits:  1, 2, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 3, 4 & 5 Tara Murray

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Timed to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month, the first three You Are Not Alone murals surfaced across New York City in May, 2019. And this past month, the project has gone global with 14 new murals — seven in NYC, two in Texas, and one each in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Brazil and India. Each of the artists interpreted the message, You Are Not Alone, in a distinct visual style using a color palette of black, white, grey and yellow.

Conceived and curated by designer, illustrator and muralist Annica Lydenberg aka Dirty Bandits and Samantha Schutz, mental health advocate and acclaimed author of the anxiety disorder memoir, I Don’t Want to Be Crazy, this timely project reminds us that we are all connected through our common humanity and, therefore, never alone. The mural featured above was painted by the award-winning, Brooklyn-based artist and designer Jason Naylor earlier this month in Bushwick. Several more images of murals that have recently surfaced near and far follow:

 Brooklyn-based product designer and visual artist Adam Fu in the Bronx

Brooklyn-based creative director, designer and muralist Dirty Bandits in Chinatown, NYC

NJ-based designer and calligrapher Rodney Ibarra aka Jexpo76 in Hammonton, NJ

Texas-based graffiti artists and designers Laced and Found in Austin, Texas 

Brazilian designer and visual artist Cristina Pagnoncelli in Curitiba, Brazil

And do remember, “You are not alone!” If you or someone you care about is in need of support or information, help is available from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m., ET. 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

All photos courtesy You Are Not Alone;  photo credit for third mural — just a spectator

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Based in Manizales, Colombia, Sebastian Jiménez aka SEPC first hit the walls of his hometown with letters 12 years ago. “I never would have imagined at that time that my entire life would revolve around urban art,” he relates. “My whole life is now focused on going out and leaving a little of my art everywhere that is possible.”

The image featured above was recently painted by SEPC in his hometown of Manizales. Characteristic of the artist’s public art, it is wonderfully photorealistic with elements reflecting his career as a visual designer. And like most of his street art, it is specific to the culture of its particular site.

Several more images of SEPC‘s artworks follow:

Painted in La Dorada, Caldas for Festival Territorio Urbano with the support of Fundación REDES, 2020

Painted in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, 2018

Painted in Manizales, 2018

Painted in Bahai, Brazil for Festival Bahia de Todas as Cores, 2018

And like so many street artists across the globe, SEPC has paid also homage to several NYC-based hip-hop legends. The following mural featuring Nas was painted last year in SEPC’s hometown, Manizales.

SEPC will be visiting NYC for the first time in mid-June and is seeking opportunities to share his talents with us. The artist can be contacted at juan.jimenez.dv@gmail.com.

All photos courtesy of the artist

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For the past several years, the corner of 43rd Avenue & 38th Street in Sunnyside Queens — penned The Great Wall of Savas — has hosted a varied range of intriguing artworks. The mural pictured above was recently painted by NYC-based Argentine artist Sonni in dedication to his new wife. Several more images of mural art captured in this location follow:

Long Island-based Phetus

Manhattan-based My Life in Yellow

Moscow-born, NYC-based Urban Russian Doll

NYC-based Dirk

NYC-based Soho Renaissance Factory artist Konstance Patton

Lima, Peru-based Monks

Now a twin of the Akumal Arts Festival walls, each time an Akumal artist gets up at Savas, Thirdrail Art, the project’s curator, sends a donation to Akumal to support the local community.

Photo credit: Lois Stavsky

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