Street Artists

The Grandscale Mural Project, one of my favorite public art projects in town, brings vitality, color and intrigue to East Harlem. Since this past summer, I’ve revisited its current reiteration several times, always delighted by its diversity and charm.

The mural captured above — a portrait of public art administrator and producer Ayana Ayo — was painted by muralist and teaching artist Kristy McCarthy aka D. Gale. A few more images — almost certain to refuel your spirits in these uncertain times — follow:

Multidisciplinary Ecuadorian artist and educator Toofly

NYC-based visual artist and arts educator Lola Lovenotes

Multidisciplinary Brazilian-American artist Phes

    Mexic0-born artist Sandy Perez

Bronx-based artist and arts educator Lady K Fever

Bronx-bred style master Image

Photos: 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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On December 2, the long-awaited inauguration of Canal Gallery — Barcelona’s new contemporary urban art gallery — was celebrated with the opening of the group exhibition Ceremony. Under the curatorial direction of its founder, Barcelona-based artist Balu, and art critic Teresa Arroyo de la Cruz, Ceremony showcases over 50 established and emerging artists working in a wide range of media. Among these are several New York City-based pioneers. The image above features — from left to right — the talents of NYC legends Coco144 and Al Diaz aka SAMO, alongside the pioneering Spanish urban artist Germán Bel aka Fasim. Several more images from the groundbreaking exhibition follow:

Its handsome entryway located  in the city’s Gothic Quarter at Carrer del Palau, 4; Barcelona-based Kram on left

Spanish artists Birdie, Kamil, Javier Mariscal and Art Is Trash (from left to right)

Spanish artists Canal Gallery founder BaluCarlos Magone and Ira Torres

Paris-based Popay (L) and Berlin-based Rallitox

Front view: Coco144, Al Diaz aka SAMO, Germán Bel aka Fasim, Laia, Ramón Maiden, Flint, Tayone, Gerard Fernández, Vanesa Muñóz and Grito

Germán Bel aka Fasim interviewed by BTV

Flyer for exhibition that continues through Thursday, December 30

Special thanks to Germán Bel aka Fasim for providing the contents and photographs for this post. First featured photo is by Teo Vázquez

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When LISA Project NYC co-founder Reynaldo Rosa aka The Drif was 10 years old and living in the foster care system with a critical illness, he wished he could visit the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a 501 nonprofit organization that that helps fulfill the wishes of children with serious illnesses, Rey had his wish come true – an adventure that sparked his imagination, allowing him “to see color again.”

Inspired by this experience, Rey has been bringing color to our streets for over a decade, and his brain-child, the Make-A-Wish Mural Project, has launched a variety of spirited murals in a range of NYC spaces from the Brookdale Hospital in East Brooklyn to the streets of Nolita in Manhattan.

Last month, under The Drif’s curatorial direction, the exterior of the huge Macy’s Department Store, housed in Queens Center, was magically transformed as part of Macy’s annual Believe campaign. The image featured above was a collaboration among: the Drif, Zero Productivity, Chris RWK and Veng RWK. Several select close-ups from the huge mural project follow:

Zero Productivity and Chris RWK

Indie 184 and Zero Productivity

Veng RWK

Indie 184, Chris RWK & Veng RWK

And a reminder from Chris RWK to send your letter to Santa — as for every letter received, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. You have until Friday to write your letter here or drop it off at Macy’s.

Note: Earlier this month six murals were also unveiled outside the Macy’s in downtown Brooklyn.

Photo credits: 1 Shalom Stavsky, 2-6 Lois Stavsky

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Launched by Street Theory — a creative agency founded by Victor “MARKA27” Quinonez and Liza Quinonez in 2020 as a response to police brutality —  Murals for the Movement is intent on rebuilding communities with “uplifting large-scale murals and public art by Black artists and artists of color.”

Under the curatorial direction of Street Theory, several large, inspiring public artworks by Marka27, Cey Adams and Sophia Dawson recently surfaced in DUMBO, Brooklyn. The image featured above is one segment of a huge, boldly colored neoindigenous mural celebrating “the African Diaspora and contemporary Afro Futurism” painted by the multidisciplinary international artist MARKA27.

A close-up from another segment of Marka27‘s huge mural, “Back to the Essence,” 195 Gold St

NYC’s legendary Cey Adams brings a message of LOVE to Prospect + Adams St. with two murals

And directly facing it–

Brooklyn-based, socially conscious visual artist Sophia Dawson“Standing in the Gap,” Front St. between Pearl St. & Adams St.

Close-up

This project was funded by Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and DUMBO Improvement District utilizing NYCDOT property. The murals will remain on display through spring, 2022.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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After viewing ONe Rad Latina‘s solo exhibition at Village Works, I was eager to find out more about the self-taught multidisciplinary artist. And on Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit her Bushwick studio and speak to her about her exhibition that remains on view at Village Works through December 2.

I first came upon your infectious aesthetic last fall on the streets of Soho. I then encountered it on the exterior of the New York Public Library, on the walls of Bushwick and in East Harlem’s Grandscale Mural Project. And this past Friday, I visited your solo exhibition One Rad Latina at Village Works in the East Village. What an amazing range of studio art on view!  How did you decide which works to include in this current exhibition?

Most important are my faceless portraits. It is how I express my identity. As a first generation American, I almost always felt invisible. The faceless portraits also reflect my Dominican heritage, as handcrafted faceless dolls made out of terra cotta are unique to it. Another important representation of my culture that I wanted to include in this exhibition are my Skeletrex, the skulls that I draw. When my dear friend Kev RWK saw them several months ago, he urged me to continue to develop them.

And what about your designs? I love their flow.

They’re a reflection of my brain — the distinct way it works. When I was five years old, I learned that particular technique of drawing loosely and freely from my kindergarten teacher. And I love the patterns that emerge when I just let it flow!

Your works range in style from whimsical abstract graffiti to serious meditative portraiture. Is there a particular mode, medium or style that you prefer? That you feel most comfortable working with?

I love each of the styles. I can’t say that I have a preference. As far as the tools I employ, I like working with a palette knife and heavy acrylic medium.

Have you any personal favorites among the artworks on exhibit?

Among my favorites are: Primo Hermanos (First Cousins) — inspired by a 1987 family photo — and People Are Strange that I designed last year with acrylic, oil marker and ink. In both images, the figures are faceless.

Village Works is such a handsome space, and your artwork looks so wonderful there. How did you hook up with this East Village venue?

It was through Kurt Boone, a huge fan and documentarian of NYC culture. I’d known of him for years because he’s part of the bike messenger culture that I follow, but it wasn’t until last year that I met him. I was painting a mural at the New York Public Library in Midtown, and he was in the neighborhood photographing a protest at the time. Kurt noticed what I was doing, stopped by, and became interested in my work. He knew Joe Sheridan, the creative director of Village Works, and approached him about curating an exhibition of my studio work.

How did opening the opening reception go? How did folks respond to your works on exhibit?

It was awesome! And I was thrilled that so many old school writers attended. Among these pioneers were Mike 171, Butch 2 and SJK171 — guys who have contributed so much to the culture, but have yet to receive the recognition they deserve.

How can folks still see your exhibition?

It remains on view through December 2 at the Village Works Art Gallery, located at 90 East 3rd Street. Check here for opening hours. A q&a with curator Kurt Boone and me will be held on Tuesday (tonight) evening from 8 to 9:30. And there will be a closing event on Thursday, December 2, 7 to 10PM. A limited edition signed catalog is also available in the gallery.

Images of artwoks

1 “Untitled,”  Mixed media

2 “Primo Hermanos,” Acrylic on canvas

3 “El Sueño de la Carbonera,” Acrylic and ink on cotton stretched canvas

4  “Untitled,” Mixed

5 “People Are Strange,” Acrylic, oil marker and ink

Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky

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Now in its sixth year, Underhill Walls — under the curatorial direction of Jeff Beler — increasingly engages a diverse range of local artists, reflecting the soul and spirit of its neighboring Prospect Heights blocks. Currently on view is a series of tantalizing murals on the theme “Movie Night.”

Pictured above is Zero Productivity‘s rendition of The Birds to the left of Subway Doodle‘s take on The Rocky Horror Show — with curator Jeff Beler posed between them.  What follows are a few more murals on the theme:

Venezuelan cartoonist Jorge Torrealba introduces “Movie Night”

Muralist and designer Majo Barajas aka Majo San, Pet Sematary

Muralist and illustrator Miki Mu, The Italian Stallion

Local artist ohh.henny.ohhhh paints his first mural, Space Jam

     NYC-born, Oakland-based Nite Owl, The Birdman of Alcatraz

Local artist Slim Villain at work, Terminator 2

Multidisciplinary artist Sage Gallon, Mahogany 

Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo, Godzilla

Underhill Walls is located at the corner of St. Johns Pl and Underhill Ave.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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A huge fan of Mr. Mustart‘s mesmerizing aesthetic since I discovered it on the streets of Jersey City a decade ago, I was delighted to feature his talents in the Morris Museum‘s current group exhibition, On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New JerseyWhat follows is an interview with the artist:

When and where did you first get up?

Back in Russia. I was about 11-12 when I first got up on a wall. I remember using a navy blue spray can from a local auto shop. At that time the paint only came in two colors.

Had you a preferred surface?  

No! Everything goes, and as long as there is room for creativity, it’s all a blank canvas.

What inspired you to hit the streets? 

A desire to be heard and also seen now that I think about it. Also, I was inspired by the music that I listened to at the time. At first, it was punk rock and heavy metal. Then when I was about 13 or 14, back in 97-98, it was a wave of hip-hop and rap music – groups like Public Enemy, Naughty By Nature, Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang, Gangstarr, of course 2Pac and Notorious BIG, BIG Pun, Big-L, Jay-Z, Nas, Dr. Dre, Snoop, KRS One, MC Hammer, Kool G Rap, Coolio, … whosever bootleg tapes and VHS videos made it to my small town.

There was no internet at that time, mind you. I remember watching music videos with b-boys in them rocking on linoleum mats with graffiti pieces and characters in the background. I was already drawing, sculpting and making my own play-weapons like wood gun replicas, ninja darts, bows and arrows. and more. The music and the videos opened me up to an entire new world of self-expression.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others? 

I like doing both. Some of my finest memories are from the times I painted with my friends. And sometimes it’s more therapeutic for me to work alone. Depends on what it is that I’m doing.

Do you belong to any crews?

I’m an honorable member of BAMC, a huge and very talented international crew based out of California and the A-Team aka the AIDS Crew, a collective of some of the dopest local street and graffiti artists based out of Jersey.

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

Before we get into any type of logomachy about this hot topic, let’s agree that there is no solid definition of either one. and the lines between have been crossed numerous times throughout its brief history and continue to till this day.  I don’t think it’s that much of a divide, rather a continuous interaction and coexistence/collision of ideas, concepts, social commentary, techniques and more. Don’t believe the hype.

I think it’s more of a territorial issue. Most graffiti writers have been doing their thing on the streets for years and even decades without serious recognition from the art world, mostly because  graffiti has been classified as a crime rather than an urban form of expression. It’s the label “street art” that took graffiti places it has never been. So I think the divide is more personal and not as systematic as people like to think.

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

I think it’s great. It’s Art and that’s where the Art belongs. It’s a window of opportunity for many talented artists and a positive outlet for those who come from harsh environments with many self-destructive vices.  It gives many people hope and a way to earn some sort of a living.

And what about the role of social media? How do you feel about that?

Its role is to connect people and that’s what it does best. It’s been great for me personally. It gives me a free platform with a global outreach. It’s a way for me to expand my network and come across great opportunities.

Have you a formal art education?

I graduated from New Jersey City University in 2009 with a BFA Degree in Painting and Drawing, but even before and throughout middle and high school, I’d always attended some sort of art classes and artists’ workshops.

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

Lots of daylight, a peaceful space without too many distractions – with some kind of instrumental music in the background and lots of blank canvases and paint. And hunger to search within.

What inspires you these days?

Good music, interactions with people. Everything really. Life.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Growing up in Russia and moving to New Jersey at the age of 14 pretty much sum up my background of influences. The hip-hop culture and music from all parts of the world, especially the music from Russia, Poland, France, Brazil and of course USA.

Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

It’s my organic and free-flowing style. I rarely work with a sketch in hand. My themes change as I do.

What about colors? Have you any favorite ones?

I especially like working with yellow. It’s energetic and exciting, but colors are nothing in isolation. I love the nuance that exists among the colors rather than individual hues.

And media? Which do you prefer working with?

Spray paint is mostly my go-to, but I would draw with a stick on sand if I have to.

How important to you are others’ responses to your work? Is it important that they like it?

When the reaction is positive, that’s great! I feel like that’s the greatest reward for any artist, whether you’re a painter, a sculptor, a chef, or a dancer! If someone doesn’t like something, that is fine too; it simply is not for them.

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

They impact each other. It’s a back and forth thing.

Where would you rather be? On the streets or in a studio setting?

Probably on the streets. Just because I like being outdoors. But I see myself  spending quality time in a studio with some canvases. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

How long do you generally spend on a studio piece?

All depends on its nature. Sometimes a few hours, and sometimes months. I also work on many pieces simultaneously.

How has your work evolved through the years?

It’s always evolving, and I’m always experimenting. It’s a continuous journey with no end in sight.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

My parents always encouraged me. They are both creative and always valued and supported my niche for creativity. They are thrilled that I can earn a living as an artist.

Have you any favorite artists?

I feel like art is about self-expression, so anyone who has been doing it and has done it well and with love is a favorite.

 

What are some of your other interests?

Eating healthy and traveling. Breathing.

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

It’s to find their inner light and to share it with others.

Note: You can view a sampling of Mr. Mustart‘s abundant talents in On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey

Photo credits: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 & 8: Lois Stavsky; 2 Sara Ching Mozeson and 6 Rachel Alban

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Both Konstance Patton and LeCrue Eyebrows have been increasingly sharing their distinctly intriguing visions on NYC streets.  For the past several days, they have been complementing each other’s singular aesthetics in “11-11 Synchronicity,” a wonderfully handsome exhibition featuring a range of media on view through today at Tribeca’s One Art Space.

Several images from the exhibition, presented by Third Rail Art, follow:

LeCrue Eyebrows, A Mother’s Memory

Konstance Patton, The Spirit of the Collective Grandmother

Installation view reflecting LeCrue Eyebrows‘ distinct spontaneous visual language, “aimed to create the underlying emotion through subject, character, and form.”

Installation view reflecting Konstance Patton‘s indigenous heritage, as she honors the significant women in her life. “These are the most important women in my life. And their energy, rather our energy, is something I want to share with you. BE A LOVER,” asserts the artist.

And another tantalizing installation view featuring a range of goods fashioned by both artists

The exhibition remains on view today, October 31, from noon until 6pm at One Art Space, 23 Warren Street in Tribeca.

Photos courtesy of Nathalie Levey, Color Brigade Media

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Since 2015, the SHINE Mural Festival, has brought over 100 murals to downtown St. Petersburg and its surrounding arts districts. This past week, a diverse lineup of wonderfully talented artists — local, national and global — shared their talents to further enhance the streets of St. Pete. Featured above is the completed mural by the renowned German artist Case Maclaim. Several more photos, captured these past few days by Street Art NYC contributor Tara Murray, follow:

Frankfurt-based Case Maclaim captured earlier at work

Tampa Bay-based painted and illustrator Jared Wright

Miami-based Haitian-American artist Mwanel Pierre Louis

Miami-based multimedia artist Nicole Salgar

The SHINE Mural Festival is produced by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, the city’s the only 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to raising money and advocating for artists, arts, cultural organizations and creative businesses.

All photos by Tara Murray

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