Street Artists

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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Richard Hambleton and His Contemporaries: Al Diaz, Ken Hiratsuka, Scot Borofsky, an exploration of the unsanctioned street art movement in New York City in the 1980s — through four of its most significant visionaries — continues through Friday, July 30, at Ideal Glass Studios.

The image featured above, Jumper, was fashioned in 1995 by the late Canadian artist Richard Hambleton, referred to by many as the “Godfather of street art.”  Hambleton’s mysterious, mesmerizing  silhouetted figures, variations of his iconic “Shadowman,” made their way into hundreds of alleyways and buildings throughout NYC after he had moved to Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Several more images on exhibit in Richard Hambleton and His Contemporaries follow:

Also by Richard Hambleton, “Untitled 1,” 1994, Acrylic on canvas,  70.5 x 62.5 inches

NYC native Al Diaz — prolific text-oriented street artist who had collaborated with Jean Michel Basquiat on SAMO© and maintains an active presence on the streets today — “Forgotten Names,” 2019-20, Mixed media on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Also by Al Diaz, “Ghost Painting,” 2021, Mixed media on canvas, 21 x 30 inches

Japanese sculptor Ken Hiratsuka — who worked with hammer and chisel to create intricate designs  underfoot — “Islands,” 2021, Bluestone, 23.5 x 18 x 3 inches

Also by Ken Hiratsuka, “All Night,” 2010, Black granite, 38 x 26 x 1.5 inches

Vermont native Scot Borofsky — known for his site-specific works referencing ancient art from various cultures — (from left to right) “Farmer’s Daughter,” 1986, Krylon spray paint on linen, 60 x 42 inches; “Yellow Angel,” 1986, Krylon spray paint on linen, 60 x 42 inches; “Meditating Figure,” 1989, Krylon spray paint on linen, 72 x 72 inches

The exhibition can be viewed daily through Friday, July 30m from 2-6pm at Ideal Glass Studios. located at 9 West 8th Street in Greenwich Village. For viewings all other times, you can contact Salomon Arts Gallery at (212) 966-1997 to book an appointment.

Special thanks to Ana Candelaria, who attended the press reception earlier this week and photographed select works to share with us

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While exploring the streets of Jersey City in the vicinity of the Grove Street station off the Path train, I found myself riveted by one particular block. Along Coles and First Street, an eclectic range of graffiti pieces and street art murals rotate regularly. I was struck by their authenticity and their inherent spirit of community. I soon found out that the person behind them is Jersey City-native Wyme Santos. A man with a mission, he is the founder and curator of the community-based organization, JC Hundreds Mural Co. While visiting on a Sunday earlier this summer — when artists were busily painting — I had the opportunity to meet Wyme and find out a bit about his ongoing project:

Can you tell us something about the name of your company, JC Hundreds? What is its significance?

It all starts with one mural. And with one wall at a time, we soon have 100 murals that beautify a neighborhood. A culture can then develop that encompasses hundreds of murals.

About how many murals have you facilitated since you began this project?

In the course of two years, I’ve curated about 400 murals throughout Jersey City.

It is this block that captured my attention. How did you get the space to do this?

I reclaimed it. Once a block that had hosted a range of art and a traditional art supply store, it had become largely neglected.

Several of these artists are from Jersey City.

Yes, most are from New Jersey, and many are local, as we try to represent Jersey City’s diversity.

It’s wonderful how this space is so inviting and open. 

Yes, I like providing artists with a place to practice, paint or just hang out. I see art as a therapeutic medium.

That is the ideal! The energy here reminds me somewhat of 5Pointz, the LIC graffiti Mecca that was destroyed to give way to soulless condominiums. 

Yes! It’s about having the right energy and embodying the true spirit of graffiti.

What are some of the challenges you face in seeing your mission through?

Obtaining permissions in a variety of  locales throughout Jersey City is one challenge. I want to provide more legal spaces for artists. Art saves lives.

Can you tell us more about what you are doing in addition to curating walls?

I recently started a children’s program for mural art. We teach kids, ages 6-12, the ground rules of graffiti. They learn how they can uphold the culture, engage with the community and use eco-friendly paint. Two of them, V¡V and KüP, aka toodope_grlz, were the only kids who painted in the Jersey City Mural Festival. There are still some openings in our ongoing Summer Spray Paint Camp.

Do any personal graffiti-related memories stand out? I love your style! It’s quite distinct.

I remember meeting Rime, Nace and Sek when I was about 14. I had just caught a tag when I overheard Nace telling Sek, “You gotta write like him. You need to flow like him,” pointing to my tag.

Wow! What’s ahead?

I am working towards acquiring 501(c) status as a nonprofit organization and establishing a year-long program that engages children. And, of course, finding more spaces outdoors and indoors for artists to practice and paint.

Good luck with it all!

Images:

1 Wyme Santos in front of segment of mural by enemthagreat

2 Wyme Santos

3 John Exit

4 Byas

5 Avery

6 Ray Arcadio (L) and Distort (R) memorial walls

7 enemthagreat

8 Mr Mustart

www.jchundredsmuralco.com

10 Ree Vilomar

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1, 5, 7 & 10 Tara Murray; 2-4, 6 & 8 Lois Stavsky

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Currently on view at Taglialatella Galleries is Cabin Fever, a solo exhibition by the wonderfully inventive, multidisciplinary artist Joe Iurato. Featuring a range of paintings, wood assemblages, works on paper and photographs — along with the artist’s first NFT — Cabin Fever is Iurato’s personal reflection on life during the pandemic.

“It’s an unfiltered, visceral reaction to a life event that I’ll never be able to explain fully,” Joe Iurato comments. The artwork featured above, Over and Out was fashioned earlier this year with spray paint, a hand-scrolled wooden cut out and a reclaimed wood assemblage. Several more artworks on exhibit in Cabin Fever follow:

New Tricks, 2021, Spray paint, hand-scrolled wooden cut out, reclaimed wood assemblage, 21 x 27 x2 inches

Air, Play Connect, 2021, Spray paint, hand-scrolled wooden cut out, reclaimed wood assemblage, 21 x 27 x2 inches

Home Studio, 2021, Spray paint on canvas, 48 x 36 x 2 inches

Shift, 2021, Spray paint on panel, satin varnish, 30 x 24 x 2 inches

Anotherworld (Pink), 2021, Spray paint, hand-scrolled wooden cutout, reclaimed wood assemblage, 26 x 14 x 5 inches

Cabin Fever #1, 2021, 20-Second Loop NFT, from an edition of 25

Located at 229 10th Avenue between West 23rd and West 24th Streets in Chelsea, Taglialatella Galleries is open Monday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm and by appointment.

Photo credits: 1, 2, & 6 Lois Stavsky; 3-5 Dani Reyes Mozeson and 7 Courtesy of the artist

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While exploring the streets of Valencia, Spain awhile back, I met up with the wonderfully talented, self-taught, pioneering Spanish urban artist Germán Bel aka Fasim. We began an ongoing conversation at the time:

Where and when did you start getting up?

It was around 1984-85 in the Barcelona neighborhood of La Trinidad. I was 12-13 years old. I started with hair color sprays, colored waxes, paint brushes and any paint sprays that we found at the workers’ construction sites. Spray paint cans were very expensive back then. It was difficult to afford to buy any, although soon we learned to “lift” them without problems!

Who or what first inspired you to get up?

Back in the 80’s, we had very little information about the graffiti movement, and we were lucky that the Style Wars documentary was broadcast on television. It was very instructive; we learned a lot in one night just from watching it. The writer whose style most inspired me was Ricardo Mirando aka Seen. He was undoubtedly the graffiti king!

Have you any favorite surfaces?

All of them have their charm. Painting on large walls is very rewarding, but it is also very exhausting. I prefer painting in open places like public parks. I like the way the art in the public sphere interacts with the citizens and with the urban environment.

My current favorite surface is the canvas; I love its touch and its smell when it’s cut. It can withstand any onslaught! I also like paper. It’s the surface I use most often. It’s lightweight and allows me to generate many works in a short space of time.

What was it like back in the day in Spain?

When we started in the mid 80’s in Barcelona, there were very few tags on the street. But there were other types of writings — mostly alluding to the civil war, Franco’s dictatorship, social injustices, the nuclear threat, the armed group ETA and varied political party propaganda. It was referred to as “pintadas o las pintadas.”

A few years later, murals began to emerge from the punk scene — many related to underground comics and psychedelia. Major European influences included Miss Tic, Blek le Rat and Jef Aerosol.

Can you tell us something about the pioneers of the Barcelona urban art scene?

The pioneers of urban art in Barcelona were called ‘Los Rinos.’ They painted giant fried eggs, yogurt containers, paellas, French fries, roasted chickens, dripping spirals – all on train tracks. We found it very funny, and we spent hours sitting on the tracks, smoking and laughing, as we watched them.

Among the many crews in Barcelona were the Kukufruts, an all-girl, all-punk group. Today one of them, Pi Piquer, is a celebrated painter. The Trepax were stencil pioneers and made fascinating stencils of two and three meters. They are wonderfully impressive and, unfortunately, still not documented.

Do you prefer to paint in the street “with permission,” or would you rather do it illegally?

I come from a generation where painting with permission was frowned upon. I painted a wall in a public area in Valencia in 2010 dedicated to war victims. I had grown tired of seeing the horrible deaths and terrible atrocities on television for years. When I arrived with my ladder and paint and started to work, a police car stopped me. But with the help of some neighbors who defended me, I was able to continue. When I finished the wall a few weeks later, I prepared a series of reports that were published in many different cities around the world.

I was proud of what I had accomplished. I had painted a wall with a theme of political and social criticism in the center of Valencia, with no budget and without any permission and with some personal risk. And I was able to promote it around the world. Today the wall is a classic – without the support of any institution.

How did your family feel about what you are doing?

Well, I come from a family that had disintegrated. My life has been somewhat like Huckleberry Finn’s! I ended up living with my maternal grandparents, who lived in a suburb infested with heroin addicts. Its main inhabitants were Andalusian immigrants, with huge social problems.

Although my grandparents liked to see what I painted, they did not perceive it as something positive. They looked favorably on such workers as laborers, receptionists, mechanics… But to be a poet or painter in such an environment was almost a disgrace and a possible death sentence! They believed that one did not earn money with painting — that it was something for troubadours, bohemians or misfits.

They did come to accept it with resignation. Today it is different. Many people come to see my work in exhibitions or on the street. And I am sure that my grandparents, somewhere in the cosmos, would be very happy with my achievements.

What percentage of your time is dedicated to art?

From the time I get up to the time I go to bed. It’s not my job; it’s my life.

What are some of your other interests?

Literature is another great passion. I am a member of INDAGUE (the Spanish Association of Researchers and Disseminators of Graffiti and Urban Art) and I participated in a conference with Fernando Figueroa. More recently, I’ve been preparing some very funny, pictorial literary cut-ups, fusing elements of crime novels, poetry and surreal stories. It’s about the jungle, snake men, talking tigers…. It’s my first foray into literature and I like its subversive, fantastical style. I also love cooking. I love to cook when I have time. It relaxes me and I can disconnect from everything. I love to prepare new dishes.

In New York, there is often a divide between graffiti writers and street artists. Have you any thoughts about that?

I am an artist who has come to painting through tagging. Graffiti helped me to free myself from a very distressing situation of living in a very difficult neighborhood. It was the escape valve. The streets can teach you a vandal-like creative discipline that can move you in the direction of fine art. Tagging is a first contact with artistic creativity.

A few years after I started getting up on the streets, I began to paint. A turning point was my visit to JonOne‘s studio in Paris in the legendary Hôpital éphémère. Jon had original paintings by artists from all over the world including many from New York — like Rammellzee, A-One, Lady Pink, Crash, Futura2000… He showed me books by Basquiat and Miquel Barceló. Walking around his house was like visiting museum. I came to understand the relationship between tagging, graffiti, street art, urban art and fine art.

Nowadays, anyone can buy spray paint, paint a bunch of hearts in an alley, take a picture, upload it to social networks and say he is a street artist. He does this without any threat of arrest — just to be cool, to be trendy. But what he is doing is trivializing the entire movement. He is not a “street artist.” He is just a tool of capitalism.

What about cultural influences?

I am very interested in different cultures, and I have many cultural influences. Art is what survives as a testimony to fallen tyrants, kings, empires, dictatorships, dogmas and religions. What remains is the work of artists, of visionaries and poets, of craftsmen who shaped the ideas of their time. I study art every day, and even when I am studying history or archeology, I always encounter art. Among my many interests is Deir-el Medina, the royal artisan village of the pharaohs in ancient Egypt. These humble artisans who lived in adobe houses crafted many of the incredible works that fill today’s museums.

Today I am more influenced and inspired by my culture — the millenary culture of the Mediterranean — than by all the other modern or contemporary western influences. It is the source of all the elements that make up civilization: architecture, music, painting and sculpture, poetry, philosophy, astronomy and more.

Do you have a formal art education?

I am what others label as “self-taught,” as I study on my own every day — away from the influences of the art establishment. For several months in the early 90’s, I studied painting at the Cucurulla Academy in Barcelona, where we copied natural models and fashioned boring plaster sculptures. My most distinct memory is of a very young, thin model — a heroin addict whose body was filled with bruises. She would fall asleep between poses, and then she would wake up and apologize.

But I didn’t stay in school. I preferred visiting galleries and museums. My favorite gallery was the Joan Gaspar Gallery. It was almost always empty, and there I found original and serial works of great quality by the hands of: Picasso, Braque, Miró, Masson, Clavé, Tàpies, Calder, Viladecans, Mitoraj…. For me it was as exciting as entering the Cave of Altamira or Lascaux. Silently facing the works of great, internationally-recognized modern and contemporary creators was my first and my best school. For a young painter, there is no better school than to witness and face these works close-up in museums and galleries. I also read extensively at the time. They were very intense years.

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

It depends on what I want to do. In general, I’m always well-organized. When I paint a large-scale mural, I come prepared with a gridded sketch and all of the paint that I’ve chosen carefully with a color chart. When I am going to make illegal pieces on walls, I come prepared to execute them quickly. When I was younger, I used to almost always improvise, but with age I have become more disciplined. Wherever I work, though, I also let the unexpected happen, as that is part of the creative process — even when we think we have lost control.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

With the works I show, I am either half-satisfied or quite satisfied. As a general rule, I don’t show on social media or exhibit something I don’t like. I am quite critical of my painting, and I can repeat the painting process on the same canvas many times until it takes on an unexpected meaning. Life is a mystery, and painting reflects that mystery to us, just as the water reflects the image of Narcissus. While painting, I often become very fond of a piece — falling in love with it or maintaining a deep and ephemeral romance with it during the process.

How has the Covid pandemic affected you and how has it affected your work as an artist?

As you know, it has been a very strong, transformative experience on a planetary level. All our lives have changed radically, and together we are now experiencing a post-traumatic stress, unlike anything we’ve known. I have had to adapt to many changes – some very deep – quickly. I stopped spray painting on the streets in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. I am more concerned now about the harm that sprays can cause the environment. I could do without sprays, but I could not do without painting or drawing. I am horrified by the idea of a world destroyed by selfishness, so I have decided to stop and wait a bit.

I’ve also perceived changes in the direction of my work. I’m now working on themes that a few years ago I would not have imagined. My current series of paintings is tentatively titled “Erased Landscapes.” It has many meanings. It is a metaphor expressing nature’s outrage at us for disregarding our environment, but it also a reference to the mania or obsession to erase all urban graphic signs in big cities, leaving in its wake a trail of strange erased landscapes. It is also a nod to the idea that a canvas or a painting is a window to another reality, the window within the window.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1-3, 5, & 6 Courtesy of Fasim; 3 Jordi Arques; 4 Lois Stavsky  

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Featuring dozens of works in a range of media by the late legendary Jean-Michel Basquiat, along with artworks by several of his key contemporaries, “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation” continues at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts through July 25. The image featured above, “Hollywood Africans,” fashioned in 1983 by Basquiat with acrylic and oilstick on canvas, portrays the artist, Rammellzee and Toxic, as it documents the time the three artists spent together in Los Angeles.  Several more of the exhibition’s highlights — as seen on my recent visit –follow:

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Anthony Clarke (aka A-One), 1985, Acrylic, oil and collage on wood

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ero, 1984, Acrylic, oilstick and Xerox collage on paper

The late multi-media artist and hip-hop pioneer Rammellzee, Super Robber, 1985, Mixed media on canvas

NYC graffiti pioneer and acclaimed fine artist Futura, Untitled, 1982, Spray paint and marker on paper

Keith Haring and LA2 collaboration, Suit for Madonna, 1984 Acrylic on leather

Legendary graffiti pioneer Lady Pink and neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer collaboration, Tear Ducts Seem to Be a Grief Provision, 1983-84, Spray paint on canvas

A tribute to those who “fueled new directions in fine art, design, and music, driving the now-global popularity of hip-hop culture,”  “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation”  is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications and edited by co-curators Liz Munsell, the MFA’s Lorraine and Alan Bressler Curator of Contemporary Art, and Greg Tate.

Photos of artworks: Lois Stavsky

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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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The rotating walls that surface in the East Village and in Chinatown — under the curatorial direction of street art aficionado and photographer Ben L. — feature some of NYC’s most delightfully expressive murals. Largely painted by local artists, the walls occasionally showcase the talents of those visiting from abroad, as well. The image featured above is the work of Beijing-born, Brooklyn-based artist and Thrive Collective member, Peach Tao. Several more murals currently on view at East 2nd Street off First Avenue follow:

Lima, Peru-based Monks

Argentine-American artist Ramiro Davaro-Comas in collaboration with Outer Source on the First Ave. Laundry Center shutter 

Moscow-born, NYC-based Urban Russian Doll

New York-based photorealistic muralist BKFoxx

NYC-based Early Riser

Photo credits: 1-3, 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 4 Sara C Mozeson

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