Street Artists

Twin brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo aka OSGEMEOS returned this fall to Lehmann Maupin with their magic.  Portal, their second exhibition at the Chelsea gallery, draws us into a fantastical dreamworld at a time when we most need to escape the “real” one we have been living in. The wonderfully gifted artists’ fanciful characters — fashioned in their iconic bright yellow tones in a range of uncanny settings — delight and intrigue. The image featured above, Mix Master Coconut, is is one of 13 new mixed media artworks that — according to the artists — “are like PORTALS or windows into a new dimension.”

Several more images captured on my visit to PORTALS follow:

The Pretty Island, 2019, Mixed media and sequins on MDF board (medium-density fiberboard)

The Composer, 2019, Mixed media on MDF board

All Connected, 2020, Mixed media on MDF board

Taking the Dog for a Walk, 2019, Mixed media on MDF board

Liquid Room, 2019, Mixed media on MDF board

The gallery is located at 501 W 24th Street and is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 AM – 6 PM.

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

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Working with yarn, Carmen Paulino aka Carmen Community Artist has been busily bringing intriguing images and timely messages to the streets of East Harlem and beyond. I was delighted to recently meet her and find out a bit about her:

When did you first share your artwork in a public space?

Back in 2015, I did live painting outdoors with members of my East Harlem community. And then in 2018, I began yarn-bombing. I’d been working with yarn for years, but only then did I get it out in public.

What inspired you to do so at the time?

I had participated in an exhibition of fiber art at El Barrio Art Space. And I was suddenly inspired to take my art outside. I saw it as a way to beautify my community. I love East Harlem, and I wanted to add color to my neighborhood.

Were there any particular artists who inspired you to get your vision out on the streets?

Yes! Two particular artists who stand out are: Naomi Lawrence aka Naomi Rag – who’s been active in East Harlem now for several years – and the Philadelphia-based yarn bomber Nicole Nikolich aka Lace in the Moon.

Do you generally have permission to install your artwork?

Yes! I always know someone who has some connection to the site.

What is the attitude of your friends and family to what you are doing?

They are all proud of me!

What is your main source of income?

In 2014, I began working as a teaching artist in community centers, hospitals and senior centers. But for the past three years, I’ve worked mostly with seniors – and I love it! They are a constant source of inspiration.

Besides crafting with yarn and teaching art, have you any other particular interests?

I love to paint. I had a phenomenal teacher — when I was a student at Richard Green High School — who encouraged me, and I’ve been painting ever since.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I enjoy doing both. I’ve recently collaborated with Alisha aka Little Nugget Workshop, Viviana Rambay and Glenys Rivas.

Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m essentially self-taught. I learned my craft from my grandmother and mother.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Spanish culture – Indigenous, Latin American, Colombian.

Have you exhibited your work in a gallery setting?

Yes. I’m actively involved with the El Barrio Art Space.

Early in the pandemic many of your pieces expressed gratitude to the essential workers and urged folks to stay home. More recently your artworks have been focusing on the importance of voting in the upcoming election. What inspires your pieces?

I’m inspired by the people I meet and what is happening around me. In early spring my pieces were largely inspired by my husband, FDNY EMS Paramedic Michael Paulino — who has been working in the front line — and by all of the essential workers out there who put so much at risk. Current affairs have triggered my newer works.

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

No. I don’t work with a sketch. My work evolves as I create it.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Always!

What do you see as the role of the artist in society? And your role – in particular?

I see the artist as an agent of change. And my role is to bring a sense of peace and safety to my community, while beautifying it.

What’s ahead?

A collaborative memorial for East Harlem victims of Covid-19.

Thank you, Carmen, for all that you do!  I am looking forward to what’s ahead.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photos: 1 & 4, courtesy of the artist; 2, 3, 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky

Note: Photo 3 features a collaboration with Alisha S aka Little Nugget Workshop, and the fourth photo features a collaboration with Alisha S aka Little Nugget Workshop, Viviana Rambay and Glenys Rivas.

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Several artists — whose artworks I had first discovered several months ago on plywood in Soho — have continued to share their visions and talents in Harlem…this time on kiosks. Featured above is the work of Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist  Konstance Patton aka KonArtStudio. What follows are some more public artworks I recently came upon while walking west on 125th Street:

Also by Konstance Patton aka KonArtStudio

Multimedia artist Sule Marquez-Monsanto 

Brooklyn-based artist Manuel Alejandro Pulla aka The Creator

The hugely talented visual artist Brendan T Mcnally in collaboration with artist/activist Amir Diop

And some words of wisdom–

Note: Konstance Patton, Sule, Brendan T McNally and Amir Diop — all members of the Soho Renaissance Factory — have been busy at work inside a huge studio space in Soho.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Curated earlier this month by the infinitely creative Chip Love, the walls on Troutman and Seneca — on the Queens side of the Ridgewood-Bushwick border — seethe with style and swirl with rhythm. The image featured above was fashioned by the legendary Greg Lamarche. Several more recent walls designed for this project, labeled #troutmanrock, follow:

Veteran writer Bisuno

Queens-based Diego

Bro000ski does Snoopy vs the Red Baron

Veteran style writer Strider

The distinctly-talented Paris-born, NYC-based Seb Gorey

Graff masters Arbor and Dmote aka Shank

Veteran writer and graffiti historian Spar One 

Hence’s homage to Ridgewood

Photo credits: 1-3; 5, 6, 8 & 9 Lois Stavsky; 4 & 7 courtesy #troutmanrock curator Chip Love

Note: Chip Love is now at work curating a series of walls in Jamaica, Queens. ‘looking forward to seeing those!

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Based in Patras, Greece, Art in Progress — a non-profit cultural organization — is the force behind the city’s dynamic annual International Street Art Festival of Patras | ArtWalk. Its recently-held fifth edition has further enhanced the city’s urban fabric, as well as its reputation as a vital center of street art.

The hugely-impressive mural featured above was fashioned collaboratively by the Art in Progress team under the guidance and painting execution of Kleomenis Kostopoulos (KLE), ArtWalk‘s artistic director. It is dedicated to the 100th birthday of the late Melina Mercouri, a Greek symbol of culture and activism. What follows are several more murals that recently surfaced in Patras during ArtWalk 5.

The Naples-based NSN997 street art collective “dedicated to creating images that speak of society trying to represent the complexity of it”

Close-up

London-based Jay Kaes who is intent as a muralist “to contribute something positive to society”

Noted Cyprus-based artist Edmon 1419 at work as he pays tribute to the esteemed composer Ludwig van Beethoven in honor of his 250th birthday

Completed mural

You can find out more about Art in Progress here and follow its ventures on Instagram here.

All photos courtesy Art in Progress

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With street artists fiercely focusing now on addressing the social, economic and racial inequalities that the pandemic has only accentuated, Bill Posters’ new book, The Street Art Manual, is particularly timely. It is a paean to the spirit of art as activism.

For the past decade, Bill Posters — an award-winning artist, author and agitator — has worked alongside other artists and activists to create some of the world’s most illicit and impressive art projects. In The Street Art Manual, he earnestly, but playfully, presents practical guidance and advice on creating street art that challenges the inequitable status quo.

Providing tactics for successfully mounting campaigns that infiltrate the public sphere with everything from graffiti, stencils and pasteups to huge murals, projectiles and guerrilla projections, Poster discusses and describes in detail the necessary materials and techniques each mission demands. He also provides an extensive list of DO’s and DON’T’s for each of the distinct genres of street art. Should you subvert advertisements, for example, you are advised to “look like an employee of an outdoor-ad company” and not to “go out at a time that is different from when the real worker goes out to work.”

While many of the interventions featured are unsanctioned and can — if not carried out cautiously — involve a range of risks, not all are. One of the mediums included in The Street Art Manual is mural art. Large-scale murals — which so many of us have come to identify with corporate interests and gentrification — can also enrich neighborhoods. Artists painting outdoor murals have the opportunity and space to raise awareness of critical issues, celebrate distinct cultures and engage local folks. It is a way for artists, contends Posters, to give back to others while awakening consciousness.

The Italian artist Millo, for example, painted an 11-story-tall mural in the center of Santiago symbolizing “the hope that we must all find in relation to protecting the environment and reversing the ecological destruction that is causing our climate to collapse.”

Of particular interest to us street art aficionados is Post’s summary of each art form’s history. Wheat-pasting or poster-bombing can be traced back to 2000 BCE when papyrus was used to create promotional posters and flyers — formerly called bills — in such places as ancient Arabia, China, Greece, Rome and Egypt.  And we learn that yarn bombing, an increasingly popular international mode of public guerrilla expression, originally started in Houston, Texas in 2005 by a woman named Magda Sayeg who went on to gather a crew, Knitta Please.

Illustrated by Matt Bonner and published by Laurence King Publishing, Bill Posters’ The Street Art Manual delights, informs and provokes. It also renews our faith in street art as a tool for progressive social change in these fragile times.

Released globally today, September 3, the book is available here.

Images courtesy Laurence King Publishing.

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In early May — before the brutal death of George Floyd and the ongoing protests that followed it — members of the The Bowery Union began installing images of artworks on Soho’s shuttered spaces. As The Street Art Project progressed, artists from outside of NYC began to contribute their talents, as well.

Over a dozen of the boards have since been salvaged and are now on view at The Bowery Union‘s spacious gallery space at 329 Broome Street. And along with them are works by these same artists on a range of surfaces.

The two large portraits featured above — Barack Oh Mama and Regina George Washington — were fashioned by NYC-based artist and writer Isabella Cortez. And making its way in between them is the now-familiar face created by Jessi Flores aka Stealth Art. Several more images seen on my recent visit to The Bowery Union follow:

Brooklyn-based Cavier, “From Dust to Dawn”

Tomaso Albertini, Duel RIS and Swoon; Swoon’s image was initially made for  the ‘Create Art for Earth‘ campaign 

 NYC-based Oscar Lett, “In Still Waters”

NYC-based Miishab, “Heaven’s Gate,” to the left of Romanian artist Gagyi Botond, “Silence 2.0”

NYC-based Adrian Bermeo, “Bustelo Boy #2”

Dominican-American artist Indie 184, “Take Back Your Power”

All are invited tomorrow (Tuesday) evening for an artist’s talk featuring Doc Hammer at 7pm and to the exhibition’s opening reception on Thursday at 8. Check here for specific details.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Following the murder of George Floyd, the spirit of resistance that once characterized Lower Manhattan once again permeated its streets, as the boarded-up stores became canvases for politically driven murals.  Several of these artworks no longer on the streets are on view in a splendid exhibition — curated by Sono Kuwayama, Bob Holman and Howl! Happening — at Howl! on 6 East 1st Street. Others remain on the streets. The image featured above, Black Trans Lives Matter,  was fashioned with acrylic and house paint on plywood by Maya EdelmanScooter LaForge, and Sono Kuwayama.

Several more images follow — from both the Howl! exhibition and its neighboring blocks.

Multidisciplinary artist Lissa Baur, “Injustice Anywhere Is a Threat,” Acrylic on plywood, on view at Howl! 

Mrs. Skittles, Grace H. Gutekanst and Robert Blodgett, “Little Boy Blue,” Acrylic on plywood, on view at Howl! 

Colombian/American artist Felix Morelo,GOOD LUCK SPOT,” Acrylic on plywood, on view at Howl! 

Michael Walling and DLA, as seen on East 4th Street

Irena Kenny & Sono Kuwayama, as seen on East 4th Street

The noted painter Izhar Patkin, as seen on Cooper Square

The exhibition continues at Howl! through Sunday, August 23, from 11 AM–6 PM,  Thursday–Sunday.

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

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Several artists — whose works I had discovered on plywood in Soho — recently shared their visions and talents in Harlem, as they painted portraits inspired by the wondrous photography of Barron Claiborne

The image featured above — a portrait of the photographer  — was fashioned by the wonderfully talented Brendan T Mcnally. Additional images follow from several artists, who collectively identify as the Soho Renaissance Factory.

Artist/activist Amir Diop 

Glass & light artist Light Noise 

Multimedia artist Sule 

And joining the artists representing the Soho Renaissance Factory — producer and DJ Xtassy Beats

Konstance Patton aka KonArtStudio

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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When I visited Soho last Monday, it was hardly the rich wonderland it was several weeks ago. Yet, several new pieces greeted me, and I enjoyed revisiting some of my favorite murals that have, somehow, survived. The image featured above is the work of the delightfully talented artists Adam Fu and Duel RIS. Several more images — a few captured earlier —  follow:

The legendary Duel RIS

NYC-based multimedia artist Nick C. Kirk

The prolific NYC graffiti pioneer Hektad — captured 6.29

NYC-based multimedia artist Fabio Esteban 

NYC-based multidisciplinary artist Ilina Mustafina 

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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